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07/02/22

Go Skype!

Filed under: Electronics — Jared @ 1:08 pm

Skype to FCC: open up those cellular networks, please

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56 Comments »

  1. Well, I’ve been thinking about this since yesterday, trying to reconcile my desire as a consumer for open networks with my capitalist principles that say the companies should have the right to let whoever they want on their networks, under their terms.

    I haven’t reached a conclusion yet. On the one hand, they built those networks, and they should be allowed to recoup their investments and control access to their (private) property as they see fit. On the other hand, they are using public spectrum for this.

    It would certainly be better for the average cell phone user for the networks to be open – but is that worth the cost of creating an environment that is hostile to businesses? It may be – but that may not even be the question to ask. Were it not for their usage of the public spectrum, I’d say it should be there choice as to who they allow on their networks. As it stands, it’s pretty unclear.

    Comment by Matt Spong — 07/02/23 @ 12:51 pm

  2. Ok, I’ve pondered it a bit more and I’ve come to the conclusion that they should certainly NOT be forced to open their networks (though I believe it makes good long-term business sense for them to open them voluntarily – and most are reasonably open, being standard GSM).

    Here’s my reasoning. What is “public spectrum” exactly? It’s basically a natural resource of limited (with current technology) capacity, and must be divided up somehow. So the government takes care of doling out chunks via market prices (like the auctions, flawed as they were) and enforcing ownership rights.

    It’s conceptually identical to land ownership. Should the government be allowed to force a restaurant to allow people to bring their own food and eat it there? Of course not.

    And it’s hard to argue that the consumer is suffering as a result of this – the high level of competition between carriers has led to a situation where you can get an incredibly capable phone for free with a contract. Yeah, you get irritating things like carrier-locked phones, and some carriers crippling bluetooth, but the fact that networks are somewhat locked down is not the problem it is made out to be.

    Comment by Matt Spong — 07/02/23 @ 3:20 pm

  3. Unless I’m mistaken, it’s not identical to land ownership. I believe it is closer to leasing or renting – they do not take ownership of the spectrum, the license it’s use. And even if you were to compare it to land, local governments regulate land use via zoning laws, etc… I see the opening of their networks as less adverse to the network owners than zoning laws are to land owners, given that the companies make their money via contracts and not phone sales.

    I can say that I am personally suffering because of these closed networks. If it weren’t for their closed nature, there would be more innovation in the device market, and more devices would likely come over from overseas. There would still likely be cheap phones w/ contracts to entice cheap customers into service, and I would be able to buy my nifty Nokia N93, or some Sony Erickson camera phone that they don’t sell here now.

    Comment by Jared — 07/02/23 @ 4:37 pm

  4. Unless I’m mistaken, it’s not identical to land ownership. I believe it is closer to leasing or renting – they do not take ownership of the spectrum, the license it’s use. And even if you were to compare it to land, local governments regulate land use via zoning laws, etc…

    I don’t know the details, but you’re probably right about it being closer to leasing than renting. But all that changes is the timeframe for which the company should have control over the spectrum in question – either for a limited period, with leasing, or until it’s sold to another entity, with purchasing.

    Also, when you “buy” land, it’s not really yours. You still have to pay for the right to “own” it with property taxes, or the government will come and take it back from you.

    I see the opening of their networks as less adverse to the network owners than zoning laws are to land owners, given that the companies make their money via contracts and not phone sales.

    Irrelevant. It’s not the place of government to question the validity of business models. That goes to the core of economic freedom.

    I can say that I am personally suffering because of these closed networks. If it weren’t for their closed nature, there would be more innovation in the device market, and more devices would likely come over from overseas.

    Oh, come on now. You could also claim to be suffering because McDonald’s doesn’t serve filet mignon. But they run their business how they decide is best, and you can take it or leave it, and it’s the same for the cell providers.

    I want cooler, more advanced devices as much as you do (probably more so!), but take a step back and look at the innovation that has taken place in an extremely short timeframe. When I got my first cell phone less than a decade ago (late 1998/early 1999), it was a slow, featureless monstrosity that made calls and could only send text messages to other phones on the same network only. Phones today are more powerful than my *computer* was in 1998, and can communicate with anybody on the planet, via SMS, email, instant messages, the standard web, or *gasp* phone calls.

    You want it all, immediately. I can’t blame you – I do too. But that’s not how it works, and the pace of progress these days (which, as I’ve said before, is the direct result of an unrestrictive business environment) is incredible. Let things happen as their own pace, and anything that there is a real market for (meaning demand from more than you and me) will be provided.

    Observe the crumbling of DRM that’s happening as we speak. As long as the gears of capitalism aren’t gunked up (with over-regulation or monopolistic conditions), no company or industry gets away with screwing its customers forever. Sometimes (perhaps more often than we’d like) we have to put up with some inconvenience in the short-term for the sake of long-term prosperity.

    Comment by Matt Spong — 07/02/23 @ 4:57 pm

  5. And on another note, you CAN buy those phones you want! Just buy an unlocked GSM version over the internet, and you can use it on Cingular, T-Mobile, or any other GSM carrier.

    The only problem is that it’ll be much more expensive, as you don’t get the carrier subsidation that comes from you guaranteeing them that they’ll have your business for awhile.

    Comment by Matt Spong — 07/02/23 @ 5:33 pm

  6. Irrelevant. It’s not the place of government to question the validity of business models. That goes to the core of economic freedom.

    It’s not irrelevant. I would be willing to bet that in the purchase/lease/renting contract there is a clause similar to the ones forced on all of us consumers: The lessor may change the rules at any time, with the lessee’s only recourse being to cancel the contract. I’m sure that there is at least a clause requiring them to obey FCC mandates.

    You want it all, immediately. I can’t blame you – I do too. But that’s not how it works, and the pace of progress these days (which, as I’ve said before, is the direct result of an unrestrictive business environment) is incredible. Let things happen as their own pace, and anything that there is a real market for (meaning demand from more than you and me) will be provided.

    The whole point here is that they are slowing the pace of progress, for whatever unknown reason. As you point out in post #5, I can buy the phones GSM Unlocked from Europe if I so choose. But they’re not fully compatible with our networks – maybe EDGE works, but 3G won’t.

    In the end, I don’t see the difference between this and forcing phone companies to allow the use of 3rd party devices on their networks. It will spur innovation, allow more choice for consumers, and I can’t imagine it will hurt the carriers all that much.

    Comment by Jared — 07/02/24 @ 12:08 am

  7. It’s not irrelevant. I would be willing to bet that in the purchase/lease/renting contract there is a clause similar to the ones forced on all of us consumers: The lessor may change the rules at any time, with the lessee’s only recourse being to cancel the contract. I’m sure that there is at least a clause requiring them to obey FCC mandates.

    I said it’s not their place to do that, I didn’t say they don’t.

    The whole point here is that they are slowing the pace of progress, for whatever unknown reason. As you point out in post #5, I can buy the phones GSM Unlocked from Europe if I so choose. But they’re not fully compatible with our networks – maybe EDGE works, but 3G won’t.

    The problem is that we have different views on the underlying economics. My view is that restricting businesses from operating freely diminishes investment and therefore innovation for society as a whole. Perhaps in this particular instance, if the companies were forced to fully open their networks, we’d see more phones taking full advantage of them. But in the long run we’d see less investment in future networks, and therefore the next network (faster, more reliable, whatever) may not be built, or may be delayed, or may be more expensive, or whatever.

    In the end, I don’t see the difference between this and forcing phone companies to allow the use of 3rd party devices on their networks.

    Honestly, I don’t either. But consider this – if the old telephone system had remained closed, only open to rented AT&T phones and so on, would the cell networks (or another alternative that never materialized) have arrived earlier? The alternative may very well have been that today we’d have a cell network 5 or 10 years more advanced than we do.

    Comment by Matt Spong — 07/02/24 @ 6:53 pm

  8. Honestly, I don’t either.

    … but only because I didn’t think before I replied. The difference is that in the AT&T case, the issue was that their system was a monopoly. There was no alternative, and the barriers to entry for competition was far too high. Situations involving monopolistic abuses necessitate different rules. It would be hard to argue that AT&T has the same monopoly today, or T-Mobile does, or Sprint does, or Verizon does, …

    The rest of my comment still stands.

    Comment by Matt Spong — 07/02/24 @ 7:04 pm

  9. But consider this – if the old telephone system had remained closed, only open to rented AT&T phones and so on, would the cell networks (or another alternative that never materialized) have arrived earlier?

    And this brings us to one of the biggest arguments against this sort of protectionism – if you stifle innovation in order to make the current implementation (of whatever) the “best” it can be, you could be inhibiting the development of a fundamentally better solution.

    (my lack of attention span today is the reason for posting this in multiple comments)

    Comment by Matt Spong — 07/02/24 @ 7:16 pm

  10. The problem is that we have different views on the underlying economics. My view is that restricting businesses from operating freely diminishes investment and therefore innovation for society as a whole. Perhaps in this particular instance, if the companies were forced to fully open their networks, we’d see more phones taking full advantage of them. But in the long run we’d see less investment in future networks, and therefore the next network (faster, more reliable, whatever) may not be built, or may be delayed, or may be more expensive, or whatever.

    And this brings us to one of the biggest arguments against this sort of protectionism – if you stifle innovation in order to make the current implementation (of whatever) the “best” it can be, you could be inhibiting the development of a fundamentally better solution.

    Could be. Lots of conjecture you and I have. Here’s the question then – why, given the relatively unobtrusive hand that I think the government has laid upon the cell phone market (correct me if I’m wrong, but I just don’t remember hearing about lots of onerous regulation), why do our networks suck so much ass? Why are we barely starting to erect 3G networks when the rest of the world is starting to think about 4G networks? Why do we have so little in the way of options when it comes to phones? Why have the carriers not all centered in on one network technology (like GSM, or even something else), allowing the sharing of phones and more efficiency in network layout?

    I work with people from Europe, Korea, China. The general impression is we’re getting boned. Why is this?

    Comment by Jared — 07/02/25 @ 12:38 am

  11. I work with people from Europe, Korea, China. The general impression is we’re getting boned. Why is this?

    Generally speaking, it’s because the market (basically the net compromise of an entire country’s worth of desires and contributions) has decided that at this point in time, an adequate amount resources are dedicated to providing cellular service, relative to demand for said service. Other resources are directed to solving other problems (many of which we’re far ahead of Europe, Korea, and China on). It’s a matter of priorities, and it just so happens that in this case, your and my priorities don’t quite align with those of everybody else.

    Yeah, it’s abstract, and if you push the “market as hive mind” metaphor too far you begin to realize that we as a species are quite clearly manic-depressive and schizophrenic. But I’d rather have the future direction of social evolution in the direction that everybody wants, via their miniscule individual contribution to the system, than be guided (and I use that term loosely – it would be more like herding cats) by whatever power-hungry politicians are in charge at any given moment.

    Comment by Matt Spong — 07/02/25 @ 6:49 pm

  12. Generally speaking, it’s because the market (basically the net compromise of an entire country’s worth of desires and contributions) has decided that at this point in time, an adequate amount resources are dedicated to providing cellular service, relative to demand for said service. Other resources are directed to solving other problems (many of which we’re far ahead of Europe, Korea, and China on). It’s a matter of priorities, and it just so happens that in this case, your and my priorities don’t quite align with those of everybody else.

    That’s one take, but it’s not the one I really see going on here. I think that companies often, rather than looking to supply what the consumer wants, attempts to convince the consumer that they want what the company supplies. I don’t have a problem with this in prinicpal, but I do when the market consists of a few relatively large companies with basically the same offerings. Consumers in this market don’t have any choice. As it happens, I also feel this is the situation in the data-to-the-home market (cable, phone, internet, etc.)

    But I’d rather have the future direction of social evolution in the direction that everybody wants, via their miniscule individual contribution to the system, than be guided (and I use that term loosely – it would be more like herding cats) by whatever power-hungry politicians are in charge at any given moment.

    Don’t I know it. And (especially after reading your book) I like the idea on paper. I just don’t feel that life really works that way. I’m content to leave a lot of it up to those miniscule contributions (I’d even say most of it), but as a consumer I feel justified wanting my government reign in the stupid activity of companies using our collective resources (in this case, the airwaves).

    Comment by Jared — 07/02/25 @ 10:40 pm

  13. I think that companies often, rather than looking to supply what the consumer wants, attempts to convince the consumer that they want what the company supplies. I don’t have a problem with this in prinicpal, but I do when the market consists of a few relatively large companies with basically the same offerings.

    If there really was a huge demand for this, there’s nothing preventing a competitor from springing up to fill that need. So either there’s no such demand (which is my take), or such a competitor will appear (or an existing player will address that market).

    This type of industry (anything that requires widespread infrastructure) tends to be slower moving for obvious reasons, but there’s still nothing stopping some wireless engineer and his MBA buddy from putting together a solid business plan, finding investment (which will be there if the market really exists), and tackling it themselves.

    Oh, and on another note – South Korea is one of the most well-functioning capitalist economies (and democratic governments) on the planet. It’s a wonderful example of what a free market should be. Provides a nice contrast to the centrally-managed North Korea and its GDP of what… $24 million? 🙂

    Consumers in this market don’t have any choice. As it happens, I also feel this is the situation in the data-to-the-home market (cable, phone, internet, etc.)

    I strongly disagree. I’m very demanding and picky when it comes to this sort of stuff, and I’m certainly placated by current offerings. And if it’s good enough for me, it’s good enough for 99% of people out there.

    And what’s wrong with the data to the home market? This area has been in a price war for years now (ever since cable, phone, and internet started consolidating into a single package), so you can be pretty certain they’re getting it to you as cheaply as they can. Bandwidth is being crunched by BitTorrent, YouTube, and so on, and is not cheap these days (which is why I own Level 3 stock – they build backbones).

    I like the idea on paper. I just don’t feel that life really works that way.

    You keep saying that, but I don’t understand. Then what are economists doing with their lives? Ivory tower intellectual masturbation? Probably some of them, yes, but the science is the study of human interaction – people didn’t come up with these laws and expect the world to follow them, they came up with them based on observation of how the world works.

    Economic laws govern societies and human interaction in the same way that the laws of physics govern the physical world. Yes, the math and abstractions behind each are based on an idealized version of reality, but that doesn’t mean they don’t apply. It just means the real world is not exact – but still close enough for scientific study to be useful.

    but as a consumer I feel justified wanting my government reign in the stupid activity of companies using our collective resources (in this case, the airwaves).

    And you trust your government with this kind of power? I don’t.

    Comment by Matt Spong — 07/02/26 @ 1:34 am

  14. Dammit. Edit my comment and fix the broken blockquote. :\

    Comment by Matt Spong — 07/02/26 @ 1:35 am

  15. If there really was a huge demand for this, there’s nothing preventing a competitor from springing up to fill that need.

    Of course there is – the huge capital investment required to get off the ground in the cell phone game. The only “small” national provider I’ve ever heard of is that AlTel (is that their name?) company that occasionally runs ads making fun of the big four, but I’ve heard very little about them. Maybe I’ll give them a looksee, but unless they are cheaper and/or provide way more in the way of options than the vanilla ones provided by the big four, I’ll end up taking the corporate discount that Laura’s company will provide.

    I strongly disagree. I’m very demanding and picky when it comes to this sort of stuff, and I’m certainly placated by current offerings. And if it’s good enough for me, it’s good enough for 99% of people out there.

    You may be placated, but I’ve chatted with you enough to know that you are only because those are the options afforded you. I suppose we do have a choice technically, but it involves choosing from one of four suck-ass companies.

    And what’s wrong with the data to the home market? This area has been in a price war for years now (ever since cable, phone, and internet started consolidating into a single package), so you can be pretty certain they’re getting it to you as cheaply as they can.

    Heh, definately not. Although in some towns there is sort of a price war going on (i.e. I managed to pit RCN vs Comcast to get a decent deal), in a lot of suburban towns (I don’t know if Sudbury is still one of them) there is essentially one service provider, and they have not been participating in this price war (because they don’t have to).

    The choice between a cable company or a phone company for data service is a false one; seems to me it would be more efficient to pick a transmission medium (say, fiber), and let the companies compete to provide decent service over the same line. Then we’d have a real price war.

    You keep saying that, but I don’t understand. Then what are economists doing with their lives? Ivory tower intellectual masturbation? Probably some of them, yes, but the science is the study of human interaction – people didn’t come up with these laws and expect the world to follow them, they came up with them based on observation of how the world works.

    Economic laws govern societies and human interaction in the same way that the laws of physics govern the physical world. Yes, the math and abstractions behind each are based on an idealized version of reality, but that doesn’t mean they don’t apply. It just means the real world is not exact – but still close enough for scientific study to be useful.

    The emphasized text covers my general feeling on the subject.

    Everything I’ve learned about free market economics (I will admit, your book was especially helpful even if the author was dreadful) has lead me to believe it is not what we have, and not by a long shot. Based on what I’ve learned, for a free market to function properly, the government must do a very small number of things; mostly, maintain a monopoly on force such that general economic actors don’t have one, and so that they may enforce the most basic of rules on society. Other roles include enforcing said laws, helping out (at the most local level possible of course) in cases where the external costs are greater than the internal costs of a transaction would indicate (i.e. environmental regulation), and possibly take care of things that we don’t think the free market can handle equitably (i.e. education).

    The problem with this, of course, is that it makes the same gaff Socialism (as a governmental form, which does not by definition require a fully centralized economy) does: it expects a group of people to behave against their nature. In the case of Socialism it results in catastrophic system failure from the get-go: it is totally against our nature to work for the good of society, in the aggregate.

    With our free market system, the assumption is smaller, and hence less catastrophic: it expects the government to behave in a way that is totally against its own nature. As was pointed out ad nauseum in that Basic Economics book, it is in the interest of the politicians involved in our government (any government so far constructed really) to expand their influence, regulate more things, create bigger government structures with which to require more funding.

    I’m not saying the scientific study isn’t useful – you’re preaching to the choir when it comes to research for the sake of learning. But we don’t have a free market, not in reality, not based on what I’ve seen and learned throughout my life. It’s reasonably close, and close enough to be quite stable, but that’s not what it is.

    However, just because it’s stable doesn’t mean it’s doing it’s job either. I don’t see the rosy economic picture you do for better than half of the US population (obviously the bottom half, and Laura and I, nor you, fit into it). If you want to know why, I would suggest you start by reading Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich (I have the audio book, and Laura has the dead tree version, you are welcome to borrow either I imagine). Once I’m done with my current book, I might even have another for you to read (should I continue to like this one).

    And you trust your government with this kind of power?

    Trust is a strong word. The government does not inspire nearly as much mistrust in me as it does you, but trust is not the word as far as I’m concerned. But I do think they are the place to get some things done. In this case, I happen to think they are the place to go to.

    Comment by Jared — 07/02/26 @ 9:01 am

  16. Of course there is – the huge capital investment required to get off the ground in the cell phone game.

    But there’s also huge amounts of capital floating around looking for someplace to earn a nice return. The current trend for that money is to take struggling public companies private, where they can earn better returns away from the prying eyes of Sarbaines-Oxley. But this is why I’m against unnecessary regulation and anti-profit legislation – the more attractive the environment is for investment, the more easily something like an alternative wireless carrier can get off the ground.

    You may be placated, but I’ve chatted with you enough to know that you are only because those are the options afforded you. I suppose we do have a choice technically, but it involves choosing from one of four suck-ass companies.

    I have no qualms with the carriers themselves – it’s the phones that piss me off (and even more specifically than that, the software on the phones). This is not a market that takes a lot of capital to break into, and it only pisses me off because software is what I know, and little things that don’t work like I would like them to irritate me. As far as carriers go, though, I was perfectly happy with Cingular, and now with T-Mobile.

    Heh, definately not. Although in some towns there is sort of a price war going on (i.e. I managed to pit RCN vs Comcast to get a decent deal), in a lot of suburban towns (I don’t know if Sudbury is still one of them) there is essentially one service provider, and they have not been participating in this price war (because they don’t have to).

    It’s not a price war on a town-by-town basis, but overall. And markets like Sudbury, where residents have lots of disposable income, tend to be places where they recoup losses from other markets. But if prices in Sudbury were to go needlessly higher, competition would come in to take advantage of the higher margins.

    You do have more choice than you think – you could always go DSL instead of cable. But it’s more expensive for the bandwidth you get. Care to guess why?

    seems to me it would be more efficient to pick a transmission medium (say, fiber), and let the companies compete to provide decent service over the same line.

    Who builds that line? And do they do it because the government puts a figurative gun to their head, or because it’s a good business move? If it were really a good business move, why haven’t they done that already?

    The emphasized text covers my general feeling on the subject.

    Well, if you’re going to dismiss out-of-hand an entire field of study spanning hundreds of years of observations, research, and tested theories, then I guess there isn’t much I can say.

    With our free market system, the assumption is smaller, and hence less catastrophic: it expects the government to behave in a way that is totally against its own nature. As was pointed out ad nauseum in that Basic Economics book, it is in the interest of the politicians involved in our government (any government so far constructed really) to expand their influence, regulate more things, create bigger government structures with which to require more funding.

    Exactly, which is why it is up to the citizens to keep this power in check, and not increase it piece-by-piece when you say “well… government should have a hand in this too, because I don’t like the way it turned out.”

    But we don’t have a free market, not in reality, not based on what I’ve seen and learned throughout my life. It’s reasonably close, and close enough to be quite stable, but that’s not what it is.

    Of course not – it’s an unattainable ideal. But that doesn’t mean it’s not something we should work towards, rather than away from.

    However, just because it’s stable doesn’t mean it’s doing it’s job either. I don’t see the rosy economic picture you do for better than half of the US population (obviously the bottom half, and Laura and I, nor you, fit into it).

    You mean the US population where 100 years ago, cars were a rare sighting, indoor plumbing and heating were hardly ubiquitous, food was dangerous and comparatively expensive, leisure time was in short supply, life expectancies were far lower, economic mobility was far lower… where today all but the ABSOLUTE poorest have enough to eat, a car, a place to live, indoor plumbing, heat, televisions, computers, and on and on.

    This is why I think the income inequality argument is utter bullshit. Don’t compare your position vs. the position of some CEO – compare it to the position of somebody in your situation 100 years ago, and you’ll see how far economic development has brought us. Income inequality arguments reek to me of nothing more than jealousy and feelings of entitlement.

    The government does not inspire nearly as much mistrust in me as it does you, but trust is not the word as far as I’m concerned. But I do think they are the place to get some things done. In this case, I happen to think they are the place to go to.

    But it doesn’t work that way – you can’t say, “hey government, fix this situation, plz thx.” You can only say, “hey government, this situation (and any others like it) is something I’ll trust you to deal with. So I’ll expand your powers until they encompass dealing with this situation.”

    Afterwards, there’s no dialing that power back down. When you have an entity that has a) an incentive to grab more and more power, and b) a monopoly on the use of force, you really need a populace that will fight back tooth and nail at any unnecessary expansion of power. Otherwise it’s a one way street to totalitarianism (I think it is anyway, but at least we can drag our heels along the way).

    Healthcare is one area where an ARGUMENT can be made that government should interfere. I happen to disagree with that argument, and I think government interference would just make it works, but at least it’s not entirely out of left field. In the wireless industry, the free market has already provided more than is needed (though needs are progressing and the industry will continue to change accordingly), and I see absolutely no reason at all for government to fuck it all up.

    Comment by Matt Spong — 07/02/26 @ 11:40 am

  17. and I think government interference would just make it works

    Ugh. Just make it worse.

    Comment by Matt Spong — 07/02/26 @ 11:43 am

  18. This is not a market that takes a lot of capital to break into, and it only pisses me off because software is what I know, and little things that don’t work like I would like them to irritate me.

    And this is where the carriers are cock-blocking innovation. This is a case where I feel networks are networks – I’m not sure why cell phone companies get different playing rules than wired networks, and I’m not inclined to fix the differential by letting them do whatever the hell they want.

    You do have more choice than you think – you could always go DSL instead of cable.

    Not in Lincoln. Not in a LOT of towns in this country. I don’t have numbers handy (and am too lazy to go get them), but every report I’ve read on broadband penetration makes the situation look quite pathetic.

    Who builds that line? And do they do it because the government puts a figurative gun to their head, or because it’s a good business move? If it were really a good business move, why haven’t they done that already?

    I’m not sure what would work best here, but I don’t think the way we do it (having companies serve as both providers of network and content) is a good way to do it. Given my relative trust of the government, I’d probably get them involved in some fasion. But I also think that societal infastructure like this isn’t well handled by a for-profit entity.

    Well, if you’re going to dismiss out-of-hand an entire field of study spanning hundreds of years of observations, research, and tested theories, then I guess there isn’t much I can say.

    Heh, I’m not dismissing it out of hand, honestly, I just think the term was amusing (and fit most academic professions, actually). I think it has value, I just think am not convinced of the grounding of economists to reality.

    Exactly, which is why it is up to the citizens to keep this power in check, and not increase it piece-by-piece when you say “well… government should have a hand in this too, because I don’t like the way it turned out.”

    That’s all well and good, but that makes a demand on the populace that is unrealistic given their behaviour, just as Socialism and the Free Market do.

    Of course not – it’s an unattainable ideal. But that doesn’t mean it’s not something we should work towards, rather than away from.

    I disagree. What it means is that we should use the lessons it teaches us in an attempt to come up with a system that actually works, in reality. Getting the children of the world to abstain from sex until they are ready is an unattainable ideal – it would solve a number of the world’s problems. But given the reality of the situation, safe sex programs work better.

    You mean the US population where 100 years ago, cars were a rare sighting, indoor plumbing and heating were hardly ubiquitous, food was dangerous and comparatively expensive, leisure time was in short supply, life expectancies were far lower, economic mobility was far lower… where today all but the ABSOLUTE poorest have enough to eat, a car, a place to live, indoor plumbing, heat, televisions, computers, and on and on.

    This is why I think the income inequality argument is utter bullshit. Don’t compare your position vs. the position of some CEO – compare it to the position of somebody in your situation 100 years ago, and you’ll see how far economic development has brought us. Income inequality arguments reek to me of nothing more than jealousy and feelings of entitlement.

    No, I mean the US population of 30 years ago, where the median male was earning the same amount of money that the median male is earning today. The “increasing standard of living” argument reeks of statistical manuvering, and nothing more. Like I said before, I have a book for you to read, when I’m done with it (just to make sure it doesn’t turn out to be crap – it has started off pretty good in my opinion).

    To pick 100 years ago as your basis of comparision is silly. Of course we’re all better off now than then. But I say we were better off 20 or 30 years ago (economically, not technologically) than we are now. The general argument I got out of the Basic Economics book was that income inequality is a phantom problem because although the piece of the pie for the lower and middle class isn’t getting any bigger, the pie itself is getting bigger. What if the pieces the lower and middle class take home are proportionally smaller?

    In the wireless industry, the free market has already provided more than is needed (though needs are progressing and the industry will continue to change accordingly), and I see absolutely no reason at all for government to fuck it all up.

    See, I don’t think they’re meeting the needs of the market. I think you are right that, left up to themselves they will eventually get it through their heads (I think the RIAA and MPAA will too, for that matter). But it’s a waste of time and resources to wait. And frankly, if the FCC has the power required to mandate an opening of devices at the end of wireless connections already (that is a supposition on my part – if they don’t, we’re talking about something entirely different), I see no reason not to do it.

    Comment by Jared — 07/02/26 @ 1:50 pm

  19. btw, when I have to pull open WordPad to compose a response, we have gone too far 😛

    Comment by Jared — 07/02/26 @ 1:51 pm

  20. And this is where the carriers are cock-blocking innovation.

    An example of this? All the features I care about are *there*, they’re just poorly implemented (on WM and Palm-based phones, the system is too unstable, and BlackBerry is just poorly implemented for lots of reasons). Carriers are (for the most part) no longer crippling bluetooth, wifi is available, arbitrary TCP/IP traffic can pass unobstructed, … What innovative features do you want that you’re not getting? (aside from just the fact that our networks are a bit developmentally behind those of some other countries).

    Not in Lincoln. Not in a LOT of towns in this country. I don’t have numbers handy (and am too lazy to go get them), but every report I’ve read on broadband penetration makes the situation look quite pathetic.

    Perhaps. But nobody ever claimed that capitalism covers everybody’s needs all at once. Things take time (though if you don’t let private enterprise handle it, it’ll take *longer*).

    But I also think that societal infastructure like this isn’t well handled by a for-profit entity.

    Why not? It worked great for power, plumbing, and other utilites…

    But given the reality of the situation, safe sex programs work better.

    Right, because human nature being what it is, abstinence will never happen. Likewise, humans are greedy, self-centered creatures by nature – and capitalism attempts to harness this and direct towards good use, rather than socialism, which attempts to ignore this reality.

    No, I mean the US population of 30 years ago, where the median male was earning the same amount of money that the median male is earning today.

    That’s only the case if you just consider salary. If you consider other benefits (health care, retirement plans, etc), it’s no longer the case, as overall (non-farm) compensation has nearly doubled since 1964 (note that the article I linked to makes the case that wage decline IS an issue, but I just wanted the graphs – we can get into that other argument if you’d like, though).

    To pick 100 years ago as your basis of comparision is silly. Of course we’re all better off now than then.

    Well, I wouldn’t say that Cuba is much better off than they were 100 years ago. They still can’t get basic supplies like toilet paper and razors reliably.

    Like I said before, I have a book for you to read, when I’m done with it (just to make sure it doesn’t turn out to be crap – it has started off pretty good in my opinion).

    Well, let me know when you’re done and I’ll take a look.

    But I say we were better off 20 or 30 years ago (economically, not technologically) than we are now.

    30 years ago, if you wanted hot food, you had to wait for it to be cooked on an actual stove or oven. If you wanted to take a picture, you had to wait forever for it to be developed. If you wanted to listen to music while you were out and about, you were shit out of luck. If you had any of a million health issues that have been at least partially treated since then, you were out of luck. If you wanted information on something, you had to look in an (outrageously expensive and outdated by definition) encyclopedia. If you wanted cash, you had to go to the bank during business hours.

    I could go on and on. The point is that these developments are due to the economic growth that we have enjoyed over the intervening years. I’d rather keep this growth going and see what the next 30 years brings us, rather than crippling it to make the current status quo marginally better.

    The general argument I got out of the Basic Economics book was that income inequality is a phantom problem because although the piece of the pie for the lower and middle class isn’t getting any bigger, the pie itself is getting bigger. What if the pieces the lower and middle class take home are proportionally smaller?

    Well, if that was the case you’d have an argument. But it’s not – the pieces may be smaller, but they’re not proportionally smaller.

    But it’s a waste of time and resources to wait.

    But shouldn’t that be the decision of those whose resources we’re talking about? What gives you the authority to demand that Verizon spends their money and manpower on X instead of Y?

    Comment by Matt Spong — 07/02/26 @ 2:50 pm

  21. But it’s a waste of time and resources to wait.

    … and also, no it isn’t – because those resources are being put to use elsewhere, they’re not just idling around waiting for ubiquitous high-speed wireless access. Are you suggesting that there is no more pressing need than to focus our resources on perfecting the wireless infrastructure?

    Remember the old engineering rule of thumb – the last 10% takes 90% of the effort. Perhaps the market has decided (rightly, in my opinion) that instead of fighting for that last 10%, we should be working on the first 90% of some other problem.

    Comment by Matt Spong — 07/02/26 @ 3:19 pm

  22. Carriers are (for the most part) no longer crippling bluetooth, wifi is available, arbitrary TCP/IP traffic can pass unobstructed, …

    What I know for myself is that there are phones available in other parts of the world (the Nokia N93, as an example) that I’m interested in, and yet there really aren’t any here that I am. Maybe it’s just phone-envy. I always have the option of importing it, but then not only would I pay through the nose (which might be worth it), it’s only sort of compatible with our networks (don’t believe EDGE would work even, although you could correct me if I’m wrong there). All because without the ability to get the devices working in a carrier-blessed manner, the barrier to bringing things like that over here is too great. Maybe my pet phone wouldn’t come over here were things more open, but the barrier to bringing phones here would be lower. And I’ll take that tangible beneift over an etherial “OMGZ government regulation onoz” fear, personally.

    Perhaps. But nobody ever claimed that capitalism covers everybody’s needs all at once. Things take time (though if you don’t let private enterprise handle it, it’ll take *longer*).

    But when companies like Verizion were given buckets in public subsidies and money to give it to us, I have a problem with the lack of results. Maybe I’m mistaken, but I remember something from the 90’s (under Clinton I think) of an intiative to get fiber to the home by the early-mid 2000’s… I’m still waiting (although to be fair, I’d be waiting longer if we were in ATT territory, as they have no plans to actually deploy it to the home).

    Why not? It worked great for power, plumbing, and other utilites…

    I could be incorrect, but it is my impression that programs to deploy things like electricity, plumbing, and telephone, have often or generally been deployed at least at the prodding of the government (“Please roll out telephone to everyone, and we’ll give you this tax revenue”).

    Right, because human nature being what it is, abstinence will never happen. Likewise, humans are greedy, self-centered creatures by nature – and capitalism attempts to harness this and direct towards good use, rather than socialism, which attempts to ignore this reality.

    I’m not sure if you intentionally dodged the point I was making there, so I’ll try to make it again. I was not commenting on captialism, as I understand it attempts to align people’s incentives by using their greedy nature. What I was pointing out is that working towards an unattainable goal is silly. At best you do as well as other more reasonable options (ones that actually take into account the nature of the actors involved), and very often (as with abstinence programs) you do more harm than good. My point being that rather than work towards an unattainable ideal, I’d rather use what we learn from the theory underlining free-market economics to develop a system that actually works in the real world.

    That’s only the case if you just consider salary. If you consider other benefits (health care, retirement plans, etc), it’s no longer the case, as overall (non-farm) compensation has nearly doubled since 1964 (note that the article I linked to makes the case that wage decline IS an issue, but I just wanted the graphs – we can get into that other argument if you’d like, though).

    As far as I can tell, those graphs speak in averages. In our economy, averages aren’t just useless, they’re decieving. Everything I’ve thusfar read suggests that for the median male, compensation has stagnated for a long time. Household compensation is another story.

    Well, I wouldn’t say that Cuba is much better off than they were 100 years ago. They still can’t get basic supplies like toilet paper and razors reliably.

    And if we were talking about Cuba using 100 years ago might be a worthy point of reference. But for the US it’s not.

    Well, let me know when you’re done and I’ll take a look.

    I will. Like I said, the first 30 pages could have fooled me. In the meantime, I would recommend Nickel and Dimed if you haven’t read it.

    30 years ago, if you wanted hot food, you had to wait for it to be cooked on an actual stove or oven. If you wanted to take a picture, you had to wait forever for it to be developed. If you wanted to listen to music while you were out and about, you were shit out of luck. If you had any of a million health issues that have been at least partially treated since then, you were out of luck. If you wanted information on something, you had to look in an (outrageously expensive and outdated by definition) encyclopedia. If you wanted cash, you had to go to the bank during business hours.

    I could go on and on. The point is that these developments are due to the economic growth that we have enjoyed over the intervening years. I’d rather keep this growth going and see what the next 30 years brings us, rather than crippling it to make the current status quo marginally better.

    And these are technological developments. Although I understand that without economic growth we would have seen none of this, I fail to be convinced that forcing companies to do what is blatently right (and in their best interest, as you’ve implied!) will cripple our economy.

    Well, if that was the case you’d have an argument. But it’s not – the pieces may be smaller, but they’re not proportionally smaller.

    And what I’ve read leads me to believe it is at least proportionally smaller. I’m not sure how else to read the fact that the middle man in the country is making no more now than he was 35+ years ago.

    But shouldn’t that be the decision of those whose resources we’re talking about? What gives you the authority to demand that Verizon spends their money and manpower on X instead of Y?

    Well, no one gave me that power. But we all live here, and we’ve all decided to live under our government and bow to it’s rule. I think it’s a pretty good and relatively (compared to the rest of the world anyway) fair rule, but that is the way it is. In the case of Verizon, I suppose it depends on what we’re talking about: if we are talking about the cellphones, it requires less manpower on their part to provide an open(er) system than otherwise. The music/DRM fiasco tells us that. For the whole broadband deployment, it’d be the buckets of money that the government has spent attempting to encourage them to deploy fiber. ATT too.

    Comment by Jared — 07/02/26 @ 3:36 pm

  23. Well, no one gave me that power.

    Ah, alas, if only someone would. I’m not ambitious enough to go get it, but if I had it, by golly, I’d run this place with an iron fist.

    Comment by Jared — 07/02/26 @ 4:17 pm

  24. I always have the option of importing it, but then not only would I pay through the nose (which might be worth it), it’s only sort of compatible with our networks (don’t believe EDGE would work even, although you could correct me if I’m wrong there). All because without the ability to get the devices working in a carrier-blessed manner, the barrier to bringing things like that over here is too great.

    Yes, EDGE is standardized and will work. And the only reason the barrier exists is because of carrier subsidy – if it wasn’t for carriers subsidizing certain phones, they’d ALL be more expensive. Like you said, you CAN bring other phones over and use them here, it’s just expensive – because they’re expensive to produce.

    Maybe I’m mistaken, but I remember something from the 90’s (under Clinton I think) of an intiative to get fiber to the home by the early-mid 2000’s… I’m still waiting (although to be fair, I’d be waiting longer if we were in ATT territory, as they have no plans to actually deploy it to the home).

    Possibly. But if you ask me, that’s just another example of a failed government attempt to get something accomplished against the desires of the market. Clearly if there was a market for fiber to the home (and in 2000, there’s certainly wasn’t – there just wasn’t a use for that much bandwidth back then), the telcos would have filled it. Otherwise they’d just be throwing away perfectly good profits (even better than normal profits, because the government was subsiding part of the start up cost!)

    I could be incorrect, but it is my impression that programs to deploy things like electricity, plumbing, and telephone, have often or generally been deployed at least at the prodding of the government (”Please roll out telephone to everyone, and we’ll give you this tax revenue”).

    Actually, that’s true, at least for phones (I don’t believe it’s true for the other two, though). If there is even a single customer who wants service in a 200-mile radius, the phone companies are required to roll it out to them.

    What I was pointing out is that working towards an unattainable goal is silly.

    Nearly everything we’re working towards as a human raise in an unattainable ideal. How is that silly? We know we’ll never reach it, but we’ll get as close as we can.

    At best you do as well as other more reasonable options (ones that actually take into account the nature of the actors involved), and very often (as with abstinence programs) you do more harm than good.

    I don’t understand this argument, because it seems to me you’re arguing for my case. I’m suggesting that we do the reasonable thing, taking into account the nature of actors involved – that is, not trying to fight people’s greed but instead directing it to a more useful purpose.

    I fail to be convinced that forcing companies to do what is blatently right (and in their best interest, as you’ve implied!) will cripple our economy.

    But the very idea of a free market is that government doesn’t tell you what to do. If you’re trying to “force companies to do what’s right,” you’re no longer a free market. It’s more akin to indentured servitude.

    Where does the money come from that Verizon (et al) will need to widely implement 3G (or 4G, …) networks? There are three choices – either from their own pocket, in which case they will raise prices; by raising money from investment, which reduces the pool of money available to do other things; or from the government, which BOTH raises cost to the consumer (through taxes) AND lowers the pool of money available for other things. Which option would you choose?

    Options 1 and 2 are out the window unless we were to altogether drop the idea of economic freedom (you can’t force somebody to spend their money on what you decide is best for them). Which leaves option 3… so how do you compensate the competition who now faces an uneven playing field? How do you keep prices functioning properly if one company gets government subsidies for technology R&D and another doesn’t? The answer, of course, is you don’t. And you get a situation like what has resulted from farm subsidies – and it’s not pretty.

    As far as I can tell, those graphs speak in averages. In our economy, averages aren’t just useless, they’re decieving. Everything I’ve thusfar read suggests that for the median male, compensation has stagnated for a long time. Household compensation is another story.

    You’re right, those are averages, not median. So forget those graphs. I’d find better figures, but I’m pretty busy (and lazy).

    But in any case, what I’ve read is the opposite of what you’ve read – household wages are going down, but individual wages are going up. Household wages are going down because the average household size is shrinking. I’ll see if I can find some figures supporting this later.

    And what I’ve read leads me to believe it is at least proportionally smaller. I’m not sure how else to read the fact that the middle man in the country is making no more now than he was 35+ years ago.

    Even if that’s true, I’m not sure how to reconcile that fact with the economic and technological progress in the meantime. What does it mean that you can get an mp3 player for much less (in absolute terms, to say nothing of what’s happened with inflation) than you could a record player in the 1960’s? Inflation is always happening, but what about those industries where growth leads to economics of scale which leads to prices within the industry DROPPING over time? Certainly you can get a better car cheaper today (this time, adjusted for inflation – I’m sure it’s not true in absolute terms) than you could in the 1960’s.

    But we all live here, and we’ve all decided to live under our government and bow to it’s rule.

    Actually, we all decided about 230 years ago that we DIDN’T want to bow to its rule, and we explicitly spelled out what it was and was not allowed to do. Interfering in day-to-day corporate affairs is nowhere to be found in those allowances (the closest it comes is the ability to tax inter-state commerce). The problem is that the government is supposed to be self-policing, and over the years just started ignoring more and more of these rules.

    if we are talking about the cellphones, it requires less manpower on their part to provide an open(er) system than otherwise. The music/DRM fiasco tells us that.

    Right, and observe the free market taking DRM down on its own as we speak. When a company is doing something less efficiently than it could, that leaves the door open for a competitor to one-up them. That’s one of the most basic effects of capitalism, and key to its whole functioning.

    For the whole broadband deployment, it’d be the buckets of money that the government has spent attempting to encourage them to deploy fiber. ATT too.

    That hasn’t happened yet because the average person doesn’t NEED fiber (-optics, anyway… Total Raisin Bran is still part of a complete breakfast)! Cable is good enough at the moment. As bandwidth needs increase, consumer demand will increase, and fiber will be rolled out by those looking to make a buck. If Comcast won’t do it, somebody else will.

    Comment by Matt Spong — 07/02/26 @ 4:27 pm

  25. Ah, alas, if only someone would. I’m not ambitious enough to go get it, but if I had it, by golly, I’d run this place with an iron fist.

    And that’s the problem. Socialism is fundamentally incompatible with Democracy, as it requires a totalitarian approach to enforce it. The effect is minimal at the beginning, but it only gets worse and worse the deeper you get.

    Witness Venezuela – Chavez is threatening to nationalize and jail the proprietors of any grocery stores that break price controls. How is this different (at a fundamental level) than forcing (again, with threats of removal of livelihood) a company in the US to charge something other than fair market price for something?

    Comment by Matt Spong — 07/02/26 @ 4:38 pm

  26. Nearly everything we’re working towards as a human raise in an unattainable ideal.

    Ugh. It used to be that I could type and what I meant to say would actually come out. I obviously meant “human race.”

    Must be getting senile in my old age.

    Comment by Matt Spong — 07/02/26 @ 4:49 pm

  27. Here’s some data on median income history: US Census Bureau (PDF).

    There are two interesting graphs. First is the median household income, which (as you implied) has been steadily rising. This graph is on page 11.

    There is no graph in the PDF on median income for a single person, but there is one on median income broken down by sex (page 18). And as you said, the median income for males has more or less flatlined since the early 1970’s, but median income for females has steadily risen.

    Is this a sign of an economic problem, or simply an inefficiency (imbalance in hiring practices) working itself out of the system?

    Comment by Matt Spong — 07/02/26 @ 6:00 pm

  28. Yes, EDGE is standardized and will work. And the only reason the barrier exists is because of carrier subsidy – if it wasn’t for carriers subsidizing certain phones, they’d ALL be more expensive. Like you said, you CAN bring other phones over and use them here, it’s just expensive – because they’re expensive to produce.

    Ok, then it must be 3G service here that uses different frequencies than those used elsewhere.

    I don’t understand this argument, because it seems to me you’re arguing for my case. I’m suggesting that we do the reasonable thing, taking into account the nature of actors involved – that is, not trying to fight people’s greed but instead directing it to a more useful purpose.

    Again, you are missing the point I was attempting to make. I will try one more time. A few comments back you suggested that the way to reign in the government was to have ever-vigilant citizens that will vote out politicians that get out of line. I was making the point that this is against the nature of voters – they are quite self centered, and to do so would a) require time and effort and b) preclude the chance for their own special interest to be served (whatever that may be).

    This makes it senseless to follow the unattainable ideal of a free market to the letter, as the government will continue to mess it up to eternity. I personally think there are a lot of mechanisms and ideas in such a system that are useful and applicable to the world, but I don’t think that the system itself is even remotely realistic.

    Rather than quote more of your text here, I want to take one second to try to get back on track – we’ve wandered far away from my intent with this post. I’m not advocating a forced upgrade to 3G or 4G networks. What I am saying is that I agree with Skype’s position – if the carriers are blocking their ability to carry VOIP data over the wireless broadband lines the companies are selling, I have a problem with that. I agree with Skype in this case that the FCC should get involved (presuming they have that power).

    The presumption here (by me, based on the fact that Skype is going to them in the first place) is that the FCC has the power to regulate this sort of situation. Presumably, when the carriers bought/leased/rented the frequencies with which they are providing their services, they agreed to be beholden to FCC regulation as to how they use those airwaves. If they want to get into the broadband game, I find it just as unfair that they discriminate against VOIP traffic (or any other traffic) as I do with wire-line providers. More to the point, if it were WalMart that owned the airwaves you wouldn’t have a problem with them dictating terms to their lessee – and I find the etherial “regulation bad” argument to be specious – bad for Verizon and ATT is good for Skype, Google, and any other company that might want un-“shaped” traffic to get to their customers.

    Even if that’s true, I’m not sure how to reconcile that fact with the economic and technological progress in the meantime. What does it mean that you can get an mp3 player for much less (in absolute terms, to say nothing of what’s happened with inflation) than you could a record player in the 1960’s? Inflation is always happening, but what about those industries where growth leads to economics of scale which leads to prices within the industry DROPPING over time? Certainly you can get a better car cheaper today (this time, adjusted for inflation – I’m sure it’s not true in absolute terms) than you could in the 1960’s.

    Yes, and accordingly the book I’m reading suggests a decline in spending on things such as food, appliances, home entertainment, and clothing. To the point where food is no longer the dominant spending for the middle class family. But housing has not gotten cheaper – it has skyrocketed in cost. And the author is not talking about rent-controlled New York, she’s talking about the suburbs of various cities with half-decent schools. I know WHY the prices have inflated, but that doesn’t make it a non-problem for the middle class family.

    That hasn’t happened yet because the average person doesn’t NEED fiber (-optics, anyway… Total Raisin Bran is still part of a complete breakfast)! Cable is good enough at the moment. As bandwidth needs increase, consumer demand will increase, and fiber will be rolled out by those looking to make a buck. If Comcast won’t do it, somebody else will.

    Problem is, they were given said buckets of money on the condition of supplying a service by a date. They missed it, because they knew they could take the money and not provide the service with no repercussions – if they did this to a private person they’d be in collections by now. If my understanding of the situation is correct (and it could not be – lots of random semi-facts in my head from various reading over the years), they should be expected to refund the money (or part of it, they have started rolling out fiber finally) they were given in various subsidies and such.

    Here is where the government (to my recollection) did something right – they saw that by now (mid 2000’s), it would be getting useful to have big fat pipes available to homes. The deployment of said pipes is time consuming, and it’s cheaper to roll them out over time rather than to try to rush the infastructure out when it’s finally demanded by the market. The phone companies dropped the ball on an agreement they made. I have a problem with that, I don’t care if the agreement WAS with the government (in fact I care more, because they’re wasting EVERYONE’s money).

    Comment by Jared — 07/02/27 @ 8:39 am

  29. Ok, then it must be 3G service here that uses different frequencies than those used elsewhere.

    Really? I know Verizon’s is some odd protocol, but I thought the GSM-based ones were on the GSM frequencies, just using a protocol that other countries don’t (but not “can’t”) use.

    A few comments back you suggested that the way to reign in the government was to have ever-vigilant citizens that will vote out politicians that get out of line. I was making the point that this is against the nature of voters – they are quite self centered, and to do so would a) require time and effort and b) preclude the chance for their own special interest to be served (whatever that may be).

    But that’s exactly the necessary vigilance that was talked about when our system of government was put into place. What’s the alternative? Just letting the government do whatever they want? Can you really not see why this is a horrible idea?

    What I am saying is that I agree with Skype’s position – if the carriers are blocking their ability to carry VOIP data over the wireless broadband lines the companies are selling, I have a problem with that. I agree with Skype in this case that the FCC should get involved (presuming they have that power).

    Heh. Well if that’s really what this is about, then I’ve been arguing about the wrong thing. This is a network neutrality issue (that falls under “common carrier” rules). Either they carry all traffic, regardless of content – or they should lose their “common carrier” status, at which point they become responsible for all content that passes over their network. That’s the way the law is – and this predates internet-related issues.

    But housing has not gotten cheaper – it has skyrocketed in cost. And the author is not talking about rent-controlled New York, she’s talking about the suburbs of various cities with half-decent schools. I know WHY the prices have inflated, but that doesn’t make it a non-problem for the middle class family.

    Housing inflated because the Fed kept the funds rate too low for too long, and there was too much “easy credit.” Simple as that – it was not based on normal economic effects. It’s correcting itself right now (and taking out mortgage lenders in the process), so it’s a temporary problem that will be fixed by normal market forces.

    Problem is, they were given said buckets of money on the condition of supplying a service by a date. They missed it, because they knew they could take the money and not provide the service with no repercussions – if they did this to a private person they’d be in collections by now.

    Yes. My argument is that they should never have been given the money in the first place.

    Here is where the government (to my recollection) did something right – they saw that by now (mid 2000’s), it would be getting useful to have big fat pipes available to homes.

    I disagree that they did something right here. They had the right INTENTIONS – I’ve never argued that the Democrats don’t have the right intentions (the Republicans, not so much). It’s their approach to solving these problems that I believe is wrong, and this is a perfect example. Did it have the desired effect? No. Therefore it was not a good solution.

    Comment by Matt Spong — 07/02/27 @ 12:42 pm

  30. What’s the alternative? Just letting the government do whatever they want? Can you really not see why this is a horrible idea?

    To quote somebody famous (I forget who, and I’m too lazy to look) – “Democracy should not be a tyranny of the majority.” The idea is for everybody to stay out of everybody else’s business, not for the majority to decide everybody else’s business.

    Comment by Matt Spong — 07/02/27 @ 12:45 pm

  31. Really? I know Verizon’s is some odd protocol, but I thought the GSM-based ones were on the GSM frequencies, just using a protocol that other countries don’t (but not “can’t”) use.

    It’s my (limited) understanding that different frequencies of various GSM-based protocols are implimented in Europe and here. Although phones will do voice and such between here and there (presuming their radios impliment the proper frequencies), I think that we use different bands for high-speed data (at least HSDPA).

    But that’s exactly the necessary vigilance that was talked about when our system of government was put into place. What’s the alternative? Just letting the government do whatever they want? Can you really not see why this is a horrible idea?

    My point is more that there needs to be an alternative to the way things our structured. I know that that vigilance is what our country was founded on, but it’s barely working – it took 6 years for the public to come around and say something about Bush policy, despite the fact that it has been a travisty from day one. Although part of me might humorously suggest something like Brave New World, we’d even screw that up anyway.

    Give me the funding, and I’ll put together a team of crack academics to masturbate in an ivory tower until they figure it out 🙂

    Heh. Well if that’s really what this is about, then I’ve been arguing about the wrong thing. This is a network neutrality issue (that falls under “common carrier” rules). Either they carry all traffic, regardless of content – or they should lose their “common carrier” status, at which point they become responsible for all content that passes over their network. That’s the way the law is – and this predates internet-related issues.

    Well, as I said over IM, it also may be a hardware/software implementaiton issue. The carriers, the hardware manufacturers, and Skype would know better than I. I am of the opinion that the network should not just be neutral to traffic, but to the devices connected to it (provided they don’t interfere with the network), but I suppose I’ve already made that opinion clear.

    Housing inflated because the Fed kept the funds rate too low for too long, and there was too much “easy credit.” Simple as that – it was not based on normal economic effects. It’s correcting itself right now (and taking out mortgage lenders in the process), so it’s a temporary problem that will be fixed by normal market forces.

    Interesting. Any sources? (not that I’ve been providing any, no pressure really; it’s easier to argue etherially, and I’m too lazy to track real data down.)

    Yes. My argument is that they should never have been given the money in the first place.

    I disagree that they did something right here. They had the right INTENTIONS – I’ve never argued that the Democrats don’t have the right intentions (the Republicans, not so much). It’s their approach to solving these problems that I believe is wrong, and this is a perfect example. Did it have the desired effect? No. Therefore it was not a good solution.

    Heh, well, this comes down to deciding what you think the point of failure is. To me, the place where this failed is where the companies weren’t punished severly for not coming through on their promises (for said bags of cash). Same thing with the Big Dig, if you ask me, and probably every other municipal project in the world. I don’t have a particular solution for that, because politicians won’t take the stand required to stick it to these companies (understandably). In the mean time, these things still need to get done, and there are still times when the government will undertake them, so I’m less curious as to the answer I know you’ll give (let the market do it) than I am to how we make it happen when the government sets off on one of these (inevitable) projects. Again, I don’t see citizens trying to get their governments NOT to undertake them, so…

    To quote somebody famous (I forget who, and I’m too lazy to look) – “Democracy should not be a tyranny of the majority.” The idea is for everybody to stay out of everybody else’s business, not for the majority to decide everybody else’s business.

    Ah, sloth. Yes, it definately shouldn’t be a tyranny of the majority. But I don’t think that’s what we’ve got, by and large (although with terror fear and such, we do creep closer). But I also don’t feel that the government regulating some business (within reason) qualifies. I know you do – that’s ok, I don’t think less of you, moreso actually.

    Comment by Jared — 07/02/27 @ 1:06 pm

  32. I know that that vigilance is what our country was founded on, but it’s barely working – it took 6 years for the public to come around and say something about Bush policy, despite the fact that it has been a travisty from day one.

    This is why they have to be stopped early – when they’ve already creeped way over the line slowly over the past 50 years, another little step forward doesn’t wake people up. If we had gone from a strict constitutional state to where we are now in one giant leap, people would be rioting in the streets.

    Is your solution simply to give up and say there’s nothing that can be done to check government power? If not, what is the alternative to citizen vigilance?

    I am of the opinion that the network should not just be neutral to traffic, but to the devices connected to it (provided they don’t interfere with the network), but I suppose I’ve already made that opinion clear.

    I am too, but I am not of the opinion that the government should force this (though as far as network traffic goes, they should lose their common carrier status).

    Interesting. Any sources? (not that I’ve been providing any, no pressure really; it’s easier to argue etherially, and I’m too lazy to track real data down.)

    Not off hand. I’ll find some and write something up about it, because I’ve been meaning to anyway.

    Same thing with the Big Dig, if you ask me, and probably every other municipal project in the world.

    I keep telling you – no profit incentive and nothing gets done. If the Big Dig people had to worry about their bottom line (and not just pretend to worry about it), would we still see construction sites where one guy works and 4 stand around watching him?

    As for the fiber thing, again, there is no profit incentive, because the market just isn’t there. The government can come and throw money in to try to get the fiber built, but why would the companies do that if they’re just going to be losing money running the damn things?

    Yes, it definately shouldn’t be a tyranny of the majority. But I don’t think that’s what we’ve got, by and large (although with terror fear and such, we do creep closer).

    I don’t think it’s what we have either, but your ideas would just bring us closer. What is government interference in business if not tyranny of the majority? It’s the government (theoretically “the majority,” under a democratic system) forcing a company to run its private affairs in a certain way.

    Note that I feel the exact same way about government interference in personal affairs, where in the individual case it can be argued that the individual is helped in the process (war on drugs, prostitution, gambling, and so on). In the bigger picture, the more freedom we have (as long as we don’t trample on others’ right to the same freedoms), the better we are.

    Comment by Matt Spong — 07/02/27 @ 1:24 pm

  33. This is why they have to be stopped early – when they’ve already creeped way over the line slowly over the past 50 years, another little step forward doesn’t wake people up. If we had gone from a strict constitutional state to where we are now in one giant leap, people would be rioting in the streets.

    Is your solution simply to give up and say there’s nothing that can be done to check government power? If not, what is the alternative to citizen vigilance?

    Give up, no. I do believe the economic side of government regulation will work itself out anyway – if it won’t, than I’m not sure how we’ve survived the last 70+ years of over-regulation and under-regulation in the wrong areas. People do have an incentive to fight for their own dollar, greed and all. I worry much more about the personal side of that equation, as people are so ready to surrender their freedoms for a little bit of false security. If I had an answer for that problem, well, I’d be a lot smarter than I am.

    I am too, but I am not of the opinion that the government should force this (though as far as network traffic goes, they should lose their common carrier status).

    Well, I wouldn’t be either if it weren’t for the fact that the carriers are borrowing our airwaves. I’m not sure I see why they shouldn’t lose their common carrier status for blocking specific device types from their networks…

    Note, I’m not suggesting we mandate away carrier subsidies. And I think that would continue to be the status quo (at least for a while) even if they were required to allow any device compatible with their network on it.

    How bout this: any carrier that discriminates against the devices on their network is barred from the upcomming spectrum auction? The gates’d fly open if we did that.

    I keep telling you – no profit incentive and nothing gets done. If the Big Dig people had to worry about their bottom line (and not just pretend to worry about it), would we still see construction sites where one guy works and 4 stand around watching him?

    As for the fiber thing, again, there is no profit incentive, because the market just isn’t there. The government can come and throw money in to try to get the fiber built, but why would the companies do that if they’re just going to be losing money running the damn things?

    But to me this is a problem with the government oversight involved. Verizon did stand to make money – the subsidies. The problem is they didn’t stand to lose money when the failed to keep their end of the bargian, given the lack of government oversight. Same with the Big Dig.

    I’m not pretending I have a solution to that either (again, I’d be smarter if I did). But I think it’s a huge problem we need to solve, both because I think there are some things I think we both agree the government HAS to have a hand in (education), and things it will continue to have a hand in even if we both think it shouldn’t.

    I don’t think it’s what we have either, but your ideas would just bring us closer. What is government interference in business if not tyranny of the majority? It’s the government (theoretically “the majority,” under a democratic system) forcing a company to run its private affairs in a certain way.

    Note that I feel the exact same way about government interference in personal affairs, where in the individual case it can be argued that the individual is helped in the process (war on drugs, prostitution, gambling, and so on). In the bigger picture, the more freedom we have (as long as we don’t trample on others’ right to the same freedoms), the better we are.

    See, I just don’t feel this way about business affairs. It’s why I’m not a Libertarian. With an individual, it’s quite easy to bring the number of external costs down to near zero. Because business requires the interaction of people, there are never zero external costs (not that the sum can’t be positive, or zero, or negative). This would be why I feel that “business” itself has no rights. The individuals involved do. And for the expediency of life, the government needs to stay the hell out as much as possible. But I think there is a time and a place for government “interference”.

    Don’t get me wrong, the government interferes in all the wrong places, and leaves those that it should regulate to themselves, IMO. But that’s a fundemental failing of our government, and it does it both in private and business life. I know there’s a solution out there, but I haven’t read about it, or thought it up- when I do I’ll tell you.

    Comment by Jared — 07/02/27 @ 2:07 pm

  34. if it won’t, than I’m not sure how we’ve survived the last 70+ years of over-regulation and under-regulation in the wrong areas.

    But look at those areas that were over-regulated (or under-regulated to the point of monopolistic conditions, or subsidized). They’re a mess.

    I worry much more about the personal side of that equation, as people are so ready to surrender their freedoms for a little bit of false security.

    Dude! That is exactly what you want to do! You’re asking the government to take away somebody’s freedom (nobody ever directly asks for their own to be taken away) so you can have more (economic) security.

    How bout this: any carrier that discriminates against the devices on their network is barred from the upcomming spectrum auction? The gates’d fly open if we did that.

    I still don’t like it. Investment in the industry will drop if companies are not allowed to run their business as they see fit, and this will have a detrimental effect on competition (which is what drives the industry forward).

    But to me this is a problem with the government oversight involved. Verizon did stand to make money – the subsidies.

    On the initial building of the networks, yes. But I believe it would have been an overall loss since they wouldn’t be able to sell enough at a price that would cover their costs (again, if that wasn’t the case, they certainly would have done it).

    This would be why I feel that “business” itself has no rights. The individuals involved do.

    What about a business that consists of a single individual incorporating to protect his personal assets? I intend to do that very soon. Does that mean suddenly the government can come in and tell me what to do?

    Where is the line drawn between that business, and a huge public corporation?

    Comment by Matt Spong — 07/02/27 @ 2:36 pm

  35. Dude! That is exactly what you want to do! You’re asking the government to take away somebody’s freedom (nobody ever directly asks for their own to be taken away) so you can have more (economic) security.

    Well, first, they do ask the government to take their freedoms away – that’s where the whole “Well, I have nothing to hide, so they can search me” line of crap comes from. Second, as I said, I don’t see business freedom as a given right. I know you do. I respect that philosophy, and I don’t even think it’s wrong per se. But I do disagree with it.

    I still don’t like it. Investment in the industry will drop if companies are not allowed to run their business as they see fit, and this will have a detrimental effect on competition (which is what drives the industry forward).

    I’m not really convinced of the specter of diminished investment. It’s possible that the cell companies might be negatively involved, but someone else would more than likely benefit at their loss, and just as likely at a net gain all around as a net loss, to speak hypothetically

    On the initial building of the networks, yes. But I believe it would have been an overall loss since they wouldn’t be able to sell enough at a price that would cover their costs (again, if that wasn’t the case, they certainly would have done it).

    Well, if they didn’t think they could come out ahead they shouldn’t have taken the money.

    What about a business that consists of a single individual incorporating to protect his personal assets? I intend to do that very soon. Does that mean suddenly the government can come in and tell me what to do?

    Where is the line drawn between that business, and a huge public corporation?

    I’m not sure I’d draw much of a line. Your one-person incorporation deserves scrutiny too, should the cost to society outweigh the benefits to you and it, at least in my book. I have no problem with people (and groups thereof) incorporating to protect their assets, but I don’t see any reason why business at large shouldn’t be beholden to the society in which the live. I think it’s a philosophical difference – like I’ve said, I understand and respect your position, I just disagree.

    Comment by Jared — 07/02/27 @ 2:46 pm

  36. I’m not really convinced of the specter of diminished investment.

    It can be seen clearly in developing nations. These countries plod along, getting nowhere, with people starving and nobody having a very pleasant life. Then a seemingly small change is made that removes a barrier to investment (be it directly or indirectly, with an actual law regulating investment or simply a high tax on corporate profits), and 5 years down the road the country is prospering, and the difference between it and its neighbors is suddenly enormous.

    This has happened time and time again over the past 20 years in South America and Africa. It also happened in this country in the 1980’s, with Reagan’s corporate tax cuts that pulled us out of the awful economic situation of the 1970’s (sky-high inflation and unemployment, and low growth).

    I’ll reiterate – these aren’t some vague philosophical ideas, this is how things really work, and you can see these effects taking place if you look.

    Well, if they didn’t think they could come out ahead they shouldn’t have taken the money.

    I agree, and I’m not saying they shouldn’t be held to their contractual agreements. I’m saying the agreement should never have been made in the first place, because it’s clear to anybody with an understanding of economics that this would be the outcome.

    I think it’s a philosophical difference – like I’ve said, I understand and respect your position, I just disagree.

    I think this philosophical difference stems from one area – you see business as a drain on society that must be kept in check, where I see business as the engine that drives society forward, and should be allowed to run unchecked (except in special circumstances).

    When a business operates its small-scale day to day business, the idea is that every one of its transactions are a net positive to both parties. For example, when you buy a gallon of gas, sure it might be a pricey $3/gallon. But could you honestly dig your own oil, refine it, and put it into your car for less than that? Of course not – so the business’s efficiency provides a net gain to you as well as the company. Other industries operate accordingly, as there’s no sense starting a business that can’t sell somebody something cheaper (or more easily) than they can get on their own.

    Economic freedoms are key to this, as they allow entities (be they personal or corporate) to avoid transactions where they would not have a net gain.

    Now if the individual transactions are a net gain for both parties, then in aggregate a company’s business should be a net gain for the company as well as society as a whole.

    It’s as simple as that. If a company isn’t providing a net benefit, why are others doing business with it? You may say that there is no alternative, but there is: the choice to go without the product entirely. If you choose to use the product anyway, then it’s clearly worth the cost you’re paying for it.

    Comment by Matt Spong — 07/02/27 @ 3:19 pm

  37. When a business operates its small-scale day to day business, the idea is that every one of its transactions are a net positive to both parties. For example, when you buy a gallon of gas, sure it might be a pricey $3/gallon. But could you honestly dig your own oil, refine it, and put it into your car for less than that? Of course not – so the business’s efficiency provides a net gain to you as well as the company. Other industries operate accordingly, as there’s no sense starting a business that can’t sell somebody something cheaper (or more easily) than they can get on their own.

    I recognize this argument quite well – its the argument from the Basic Economics book that economics is not zero-sum. And I agree – when I buy a gallon of gas at $12/dollars a gallon even, both I and the oil company benefit. Our transaction, internally, is positive-sum. But…

    Now if the individual transactions are a net gain for both parties, then in aggregate a company’s business should be a net gain for the company as well as society as a whole.

    …the bolded text does not follow. This would be another point that was made in the book – it is the fallacy of composition. The fact that it is a net gain for the company has no bearing on whether or not it is a net gain for society. It’s likely that it often is, but they aren’t directly linked.

    If a company isn’t providing a net benefit, why are others doing business with it?

    Because, of course, the company is providing a net benefit in its transaction with the customer. This does not mean that the net effect on society is positive, or negative, or zero.

    I think this philosophical difference stems from one area – you see business as a drain on society that must be kept in check, where I see business as the engine that drives society forward, and should be allowed to run unchecked (except in special circumstances).

    I don’t see them as a drain on society by definition, I just don’t give them the benefit of the doubt. To me it is more like a fission reactor – you must let the reaction run in order to power society forward, but to let it run unchecked would be foolish.

    Comment by Jared — 07/02/27 @ 3:35 pm

  38. The fact that it is a net gain for the company has no bearing on whether or not it is a net gain for society. It’s likely that it often is, but they aren’t directly linked.

    No, it doesn’t follow from whether it’s a gain for the company, it follows from whether it’s a gain for each individual participant. And if they’re all willing participants, in a well-functioning market, then it is a gain for each participant, and hence a gain for the aggregate. I don’t see how any other conclusion could be drawn (environmental issues aside – and those only apply to a small subset of companies).

    Because, of course, the company is providing a net benefit in its transaction with the customer. This does not mean that the net effect on society is positive, or negative, or zero.

    Again, if it’s a net positive for each participant, how is not a net positive for the group as a whole?

    To me it is more like a fission reactor – you must let the reaction run in order to power society forward, but to let it run unchecked would be foolish.

    Ok, I’ll accept that. But there are checks – the rule of law that all must abide by. But these rules should be generalized and not specific to individual entities (no product dumping at below cost, no monopolistic abuses, no unfair trade practices [collusion, etc], and so on). The rules should not be things like “You there! You must do things this way! But those guys over there don’t have to.”

    The idea is to make a level playing field – NOT to make sure everybody gets the same number of points in the end.

    Comment by Matt Spong — 07/02/27 @ 3:43 pm

  39. No, it doesn’t follow from whether it’s a gain for the company, it follows from whether it’s a gain for each individual participant. And if they’re all willing participants, in a well-functioning market, then it is a gain for each participant, and hence a gain for the aggregate. I don’t see how any other conclusion could be drawn (environmental issues aside – and those only apply to a small subset of companies).

    Well, first, environmental issues apply to all companies, and citizens for that matter. But the fact that each participant gains in each transaction, even in the aggrigate, does not mean that the overall effect on society at large is positive, negative, or zero. Nor does it mean the effect over time is positive, negative, or zero. This ignores the external costs of such transactions, such as environmental issues.

    Ok, I’ll accept that. But there are checks – the rule of law that all must abide by. But these rules should be generalized and not specific to individual entities (no product dumping at below cost, no monopolistic abuses, no unfair trade practices [collusion, etc], and so on). The rules should not be things like “You there! You must do things this way! But those guys over there don’t have to.”

    The idea is to make a level playing field – NOT to make sure everybody gets the same number of points in the end.

    Heh, funny, I’m not sure I’d bother outlawing product dumping. I suppose it’s pretty disruptive to the economy at large, but product dumping is a losing stratagy.

    I agree that the playing field should aim to be pretty level (not that it is, nor has it ever been, nor will it ever be completely level). But that doesn’t mean that there is one set of generalized rules that fits the whole field – what I find more important is that the rules attempt to not, within a given segment of the economy (in this case wireless telecommunications), to discriminate against one actor in favor of another.

    Comment by Jared — 07/02/27 @ 3:53 pm

  40. Well, first, environmental issues apply to all companies, and citizens for that matter.

    Of course. What I meant was that most companies do not cause significant environmental damage.

    This ignores the external costs of such transactions, such as environmental issues.

    What about the external benefits? Jobs created, inefficient competitors driven out of business, more efficient uses for resources (say, oil), tax revenue generated? You’re ignoring those. And based on how far we’ve advanced as a society and an economy under a capitalist system, I think it’s fair to say that in aggregate, the benefits outweigh the downsides. If you destroy the benefits to diminish the downsides, you’re doing net damage to society.

    Heh, funny, I’m not sure I’d bother outlawing product dumping. I suppose it’s pretty disruptive to the economy at large, but product dumping is a losing stratagy.

    Nah, it’s not a losing strategy – it’s how monopolies are born. It’s been outlawed for a long time, for very good reason. Companies can get away with burning money for a long time if they know they’ll make it back and then some in the future. This is normally a good business move, but in this case it tends to lead to unfairly driving competition away and creating a monopolistic situation.

    The point of capitalism is to do things as efficiently as possible, but not more so.

    what I find more important is that the rules attempt to not, within a given segment of the economy (in this case wireless telecommunications), to discriminate against one actor in favor of another.

    But this is exactly the effect that subsidies have (be they farm subsidies or fiber optic). They put one actor at an unfair advantage over another.

    Comment by Matt Spong — 07/02/27 @ 4:01 pm

  41. Companies can get away with burning money for a long time if they know they’ll make it back and then some in the future. This is normally a good business move, but in this case it tends to lead to unfairly driving competition away and creating a monopolistic situation.

    Sorry, didn’t finish my thought here. It’s good for companies to burn money for future profits PROVIDED they’re investing the money into future production, or R&D, or something that will have an impact down the road. Burning money by simply selling products at a loss does nothing for long-term growth and simply disprupts the marketplace.

    Why companies can still get away with it (i.e. Microsoft selling the XBox at a loss for years), I’m not entirely sure. It’s quite illegal.

    Comment by Matt Spong — 07/02/27 @ 4:23 pm

  42. Of course. What I meant was that most companies do not cause significant environmental damage.

    Well, that’s debateable, but it’s an entirely different debate 😛

    What about the external benefits? Jobs created, inefficient competitors driven out of business, more efficient uses for resources (say, oil), tax revenue generated? You’re ignoring those. And based on how far we’ve advanced as a society and an economy under a capitalist system, I think it’s fair to say that in aggregate, the benefits outweigh the downsides. If you destroy the benefits to diminish the downsides, you’re doing net damage to society.

    Heh, I’m not ignoring them. I suppose “costs” isn’t quite the term I mean, as I didn’t really mean to interject positive or negative value. Over the span of centuries, I do indeed think it is fair to say the gains have outweighed the costs. In the scale of decades, and especially years, I remain totally unconvinced of that. And especially given the arctic speed with which we are addressing our impact on our environment, I am unconvinced that we are striking a positive balance for the future. I’m also not pretending that I have the capacity or power to change much of this, but I do know what I believe.

    Nah, it’s not a losing strategy – it’s how monopolies are born. It’s been outlawed for a long time, for very good reason. Companies can get away with burning money for a long time if they know they’ll make it back and then some in the future. This is normally a good business move, but in this case it tends to lead to unfairly driving competition away and creating a monopolistic situation.

    Heh, not so says your Economics book. Although it does sound like a winning stratagy, it really isn’t – by leveraging itself in such a way and driving other companies out of business, the tendency is to make the personel and capital that your competitor had available to a potential competitor at fire-sale prices. At the same time you’re in a position where you need to start bringing prices back up (as not to go totally in to debt). They can now move in, buy up the talent and capital for cheap, and do the same thing right back to you, driving you out of business.

    Heh, maybe the book’s argument doesn’t apply anymore given the crazy amount of investment capital out there – I’d not be the one to ask.

    But this is exactly the effect that subsidies have (be they farm subsidies or fiber optic). They put one actor at an unfair advantage over another.

    Which would be why I wouldn’t suggest subsidies as a method of prodding companies in various directions. I don’t, however, have a problem with the government paying to get something done – in the case of fiber, were Verizon (and ATT, et al) lived up to their agreements, they would have government-paid lines rolled into the home, ready to drop tons of HDTV on our heads (along with nice internet bandwith). I know it’s economically feesable, because Verizon is rolling it out. Were there any government oversight of the projects they set up ever, it would be less of a problem. I admit I am at a loss as to how to stimulate government oversight, and it is something that needs fixing across the board.

    Comment by Jared — 07/02/27 @ 4:28 pm

  43. Over the span of centuries, I do indeed think it is fair to say the gains have outweighed the costs. In the scale of decades, and especially years, I remain totally unconvinced of that.

    Well, it’s like the stock market. Short term you have turbulence (like today’s bloodbath… yeesh), but the long term trend is up.

    And especially given the arctic speed with which we are addressing our impact on our environment, I am unconvinced that we are striking a positive balance for the future.

    I dunno. Look how quickly attitudes have change over the past 2 years. I think in the long run it’ll work itself out (and by that, I mean the people whose job it is to worry about that sort of thing will work it out).

    And I’m no longer convinced that a carbon tax would be the way to go. I believe it *would* get the job done, but so would running our economy like North Korea. Significantly raising our energy costs would absolutely destroy our global competetiveness, and meanwhile other countries will continue to dump carbon into the air willy-nilly.

    Although it does sound like a winning stratagy, it really isn’t – by leveraging itself in such a way and driving other companies out of business, the tendency is to make the personel and capital that your competitor had available to a potential competitor at fire-sale prices. At the same time you’re in a position where you need to start bringing prices back up (as not to go totally in to debt). They can now move in, buy up the talent and capital for cheap, and do the same thing right back to you, driving you out of business.

    Ok, well that makes sense too. I think the reason it was made illegal in the first place is that, when this sort of stuff happens, the instigator tends to end up in such a dominant position that when a competitor tries to do that, prices can be brought back down before they have a chance to build up enough capital to be able to fight back effectively.

    Perhaps the nature of the game has changed, though, and that sort of thing doesn’t happen as much anymore (due to technological developments which lower the barrier to entry, I’d imagine).

    in the case of fiber, were Verizon (and ATT, et al) lived up to their agreements, they would have government-paid lines rolled into the home, ready to drop tons of HDTV on our heads (along with nice internet bandwith).

    I think this is too simplistic an expectation. HDTV over the fiber may be doable, but huge amounts of bandwidth? Not so much. Like I said before, the backbones are approaching saturation, and they need to be expanded before we can really see huge bandwidth to the endpoints. That’s happening – but in the meantime, the bandwidth costs for those fiber lines would be astronomical.

    Comment by Matt Spong — 07/02/27 @ 4:44 pm

  44. Well, it’s like the stock market. Short term you have turbulence (like today’s bloodbath… yeesh), but the long term trend is up.

    You may be right, I’m just saying that based on what I have learned to date, I’m not convinced. In the end, our kid’s kids will find out for us.

    I dunno. Look how quickly attitudes have change over the past 2 years. I think in the long run it’ll work itself out (and by that, I mean the people whose job it is to worry about that sort of thing will work it out).

    Yeah, and that is definitely a positive. But we needed to start doing something about this decades ago if we wanted to prevent/make minimal the impact that global warming will have. Better late than never, but we are already at the point where we will pay for the environmental sins of our parents (and their parents).

    And I’m no longer convinced that a carbon tax would be the way to go. I believe it *would* get the job done, but so would running our economy like North Korea. Significantly raising our energy costs would absolutely destroy our global competetiveness, and meanwhile other countries will continue to dump carbon into the air willy-nilly.

    This is why the Kyoto treaty has been a non-starter – without getting us, the biggest polluters on board, it will never amount to anything. At this point, we need to get on board, and we need to get China on board (not sure that’s even possible ^_^)

    I think this is too simplistic an expectation. HDTV over the fiber may be doable, but huge amounts of bandwidth? Not so much. Like I said before, the backbones are approaching saturation, and they need to be expanded before we can really see huge bandwidth to the endpoints. That’s happening – but in the meantime, the bandwidth costs for those fiber lines would be astronomical.

    Ah, IPTV my friend, IPTV. Supposedly with a good IPTV implementation it shouldn’t be THAT bad – a 1 hour show that I pull OTA is only ~6-7GB. If you used an IPTV implentation, you’d only be throwing the shows that people are actually watching through the pipes. I’m not sure what the backend logistics with this are, but it’s what Verizon is doing with FiosTV (I believe).

    Comment by Jared — 07/02/28 @ 7:16 am

  45. But we needed to start doing something about this decades ago if we wanted to prevent/make minimal the impact that global warming will have. Better late than never, but we are already at the point where we will pay for the environmental sins of our parents (and their parents).

    Yes, we will definitely be paying a price. I just don’t think it’ll be a catastrophic price (provided we make some changes).

    This is why the Kyoto treaty has been a non-starter – without getting us, the biggest polluters on board, it will never amount to anything. At this point, we need to get on board, and we need to get China on board (not sure that’s even possible ^_^)

    Yeah, I’m fairly sure China won’t sign on, and neither will other developing nations that are serious about developing. Hiking energy costs for an economy is like giving a 4 year old coffee and cigarettes.

    My prediction is that peak oil, far from being a disaster scenario, is what’s going to raise oil prices enough to make alternative fuel sources viable.

    Also, coal is underutilized (I can hear fuses blowing in your brain from here!) New technology has been developed that can get the energy out of coal pretty damn efficiently with much less pollution than before… it’s actually a pretty clean energy source now, and we should be using more of it. It’s certainly better for the environment (and more plentiful, without the geopolitical issues) than oil.

    But if you ask me, nuclear power is the way to go. And from what I understand, breeder reactors can run on waste from other nuclear plants and spit out fresh fissile material. Clearly there’s not *no* waste products in this process, but what there is is concentrated locally rather than spewed into the atmosphere or water supply, and hence easier to manage. And it’s economically viable today, it’s just more damn politics keeping it from being more widespread.

    Ah, IPTV my friend, IPTV. Supposedly with a good IPTV implementation it shouldn’t be THAT bad – a 1 hour show that I pull OTA is only ~6-7GB. If you used an IPTV implentation, you’d only be throwing the shows that people are actually watching through the pipes.

    No, that’s not what I meant. Bandwidth from the ISP to the home wouldn’t be the problem. The problem would be bandwidth between the ISP and everybody else. IPTV can be implemented to be fairly low bandwidth (all things considered), but it’s still much higher than your average YouTube video, but even those are causing a bandwidth crunch at this point.

    If all you want is a traditional TV delivery pipe, fiber would be great. But coax would be good enough for that too, if they changed the delivery mechanism to an on-demand model rather than piping everything through all the time.

    Comment by Matt Spong — 07/02/28 @ 12:39 pm

  46. Yeah, I’m fairly sure China won’t sign on, and neither will other developing nations that are serious about developing. Hiking energy costs for an economy is like giving a 4 year old coffee and cigarettes.

    Yeah, I agree that China isn’t likely to sign on (especially short term). I know that developing nations wouldn’t either, but if we got the US, Europe, China, and India (yet another country that would be unlikely to sign up), I think that’d be enough to cause some serious change.

    Also, coal is underutilized (I can hear fuses blowing in your brain from here!) New technology has been developed that can get the energy out of coal pretty damn efficiently with much less pollution than before… it’s actually a pretty clean energy source now, and we should be using more of it. It’s certainly better for the environment (and more plentiful, without the geopolitical issues) than oil.

    Heh, I am well aware, and my head isn’t blowing fuses. “Pretty clean” though is still far away from clean, especially in a greenhouse gas sense (there has been little economic pressure for those systems to be implemented, even if many of them have been developed/are being developed).

    But if you ask me, nuclear power is the way to go. And from what I understand, breeder reactors can run on waste from other nuclear plants and spit out fresh fissile material. Clearly there’s not *no* waste products in this process, but what there is is concentrated locally rather than spewed into the atmosphere or water supply, and hence easier to manage. And it’s economically viable today, it’s just more damn politics keeping it from being more widespread.

    Clearly. And actually, although breeder reactors are a neat trick, it isn’t the technology that has me excited. There was a scientific paper ~2 years back about a lab that had a small-scale setup that would not only break down reactor waste into non-radioactive material, it actually netted energy in the process. The plug on further research was pulled (at least at the time) because with slight modification it could be used to highly enrich said reactor waste into weapons-grade material.

    No, that’s not what I meant. Bandwidth from the ISP to the home wouldn’t be the problem. The problem would be bandwidth between the ISP and everybody else. IPTV can be implemented to be fairly low bandwidth (all things considered), but it’s still much higher than your average YouTube video, but even those are causing a bandwidth crunch at this point.

    If all you want is a traditional TV delivery pipe, fiber would be great. But coax would be good enough for that too, if they changed the delivery mechanism to an on-demand model rather than piping everything through all the time.

    I think the idea is that this material never touches the intertubes, just that it uses an on-demand-like IPTV model to save on bandwidth. The ISP (in this case also the TV SP) has all of the video on their own network (or acquires it the same way cable companies do, by satalite maybe?), and send it out to IPTV boxes that are requesting it.

    Comment by Jared — 07/02/28 @ 1:10 pm

  47. I know that developing nations wouldn’t either, but if we got the US, Europe, China, and India (yet another country that would be unlikely to sign up), I think that’d be enough to cause some serious change.

    I think this is a pipe dream, but as long as we’re dreaming, we’d need Brazil on board too.

    “Pretty clean” though is still far away from clean, especially in a greenhouse gas sense

    Still better than what we’ve got now though.

    there has been little economic pressure for those systems to be implemented, even if many of them have been developed/are being developed

    And there’s the rub. Fortunately, the long-term trend for oil prices is up and will almost certainly remain that way, and at some point the economics will change.

    There was a scientific paper ~2 years back about a lab that had a small-scale setup that would not only break down reactor waste into non-radioactive material, it actually netted energy in the process.

    Crazy.

    The plug on further research was pulled (at least at the time) because with slight modification it could be used to highly enrich said reactor waste into weapons-grade material.

    Heh. I think the solution here would be to just give EVERYBODY nukes 🙂 That way we can get on with things.

    I think the idea is that this material never touches the intertubes, just that it uses an on-demand-like IPTV model to save on bandwidth. The ISP (in this case also the TV SP) has all of the video on their own network (or acquires it the same way cable companies do, by satalite maybe?), and send it out to IPTV boxes that are requesting it.

    Yeah, the idea certainly makes sense for TV. But what’s the point? Like I said, if you moved to this model, coax would do the job just fine, so where’s the benefit in rolling out all that fiber?

    Comment by Matt Spong — 07/02/28 @ 1:45 pm

  48. I think this is a pipe dream, but as long as we’re dreaming, we’d need Brazil on board too.

    Still better than what we’ve got now though.

    And there’s the rub. Fortunately, the long-term trend for oil prices is up and will almost certainly remain that way, and at some point the economics will change.

    And by the time the economics change on their own, it will be too late to prevent a hella-ton of damage. I know you don’t believe that, and that’s ok – I just know better 😛

    Heh. I think the solution here would be to just give EVERYBODY nukes 🙂 That way we can get on with things.

    Heh, that’s not going to be something I endorse. I understand the impulse, but there are way too many crazy people out there – I’ll let them stick to conventional explosives, thank you.

    Yeah, the idea certainly makes sense for TV. But what’s the point? Like I said, if you moved to this model, coax would do the job just fine, so where’s the benefit in rolling out all that fiber?

    Well, besides future-proofing, it’s my understanding (again, quite limited, but this is what I read) that without rolling out a significant upgrade to the coax networks out there (not the lines themselves I don’t think, but to the network hardware), it doesn’t have the bandwidth to carry analog TV (which they will continue to supply due to legacy equipment) + 2-3 HDTV streams + phone + an even remotely decent internet connection. Don’t quote me – I’m sure the great goog knows where I’m wrong ^_^

    Comment by Jared — 07/02/28 @ 1:57 pm

  49. And by the time the economics change on their own, it will be too late to prevent a hella-ton of damage.

    Yeah, I never said otherwise. We’ve already DONE a hella-ton of damage. But I don’t think it’s going to end up in the nightmare scenario people are envisioning.

    Heh, that’s not going to be something I endorse. I understand the impulse, but there are way too many crazy people out there – I’ll let them stick to conventional explosives, thank you.

    Heh, I wasn’t being serious :\

    Well, besides future-proofing, it’s my understanding (again, quite limited, but this is what I read) that without rolling out a significant upgrade to the coax networks out there (not the lines themselves I don’t think, but to the network hardware), it doesn’t have the bandwidth to carry analog TV (which they will continue to supply due to legacy equipment) + 2-3 HDTV streams + phone + an even remotely decent internet connection.

    Right, but that’s using the non-on-demand model. If they dropped the analog TV streams (an update to the cable boxes should be all that’s required to transition), they’d recover a lot of that bandwidth that could be reused for other stuff.

    Comment by Matt Spong — 07/02/28 @ 3:35 pm

  50. But I don’t think it’s going to end up in the nightmare scenario people are envisioning.

    That’s the part that’s debatable.

    Heh, I wasn’t being serious :\

    Whoops, looks like we’re both missing the sarcasm tags today.

    Right, but that’s using the non-on-demand model. If they dropped the analog TV streams (an update to the cable boxes should be all that’s required to transition), they’d recover a lot of that bandwidth that could be reused for other stuff.

    Yeah, but even if they wanted to drop the analog channels (which I’m not sure they would – they’d alienate a lot of customers that are used to not needing boxes for basic TV service, I being one of them; I imagine it’d also cost a LOT to replace all of the analog boxes that ARE out there), I’m pretty sure they can’t. For some reason I seem to think that they’re required to carry the local channels in old-skool analog, unencrypted, in a way that any NTSC tuner can receive. I think.

    Comment by Jared — 07/02/28 @ 3:45 pm

  51. For some reason I seem to think that they’re required to carry the local channels in old-skool analog, unencrypted, in a way that any NTSC tuner can receive. I think.

    Yes, but isn’t the day rapidly approaching where they’ll be required to switch off the analog broadcasts and go fully digital? I think the deadline may actually be sometime in 2007 (though I’m probably wrong about that)…

    At that point, everybody with an analog TV will need an adapter of some sort anyway.

    Comment by Matt Spong — 07/02/28 @ 3:48 pm

  52. Yes, but isn’t the day rapidly approaching where they’ll be required to switch off the analog broadcasts and go fully digital? I think the deadline may actually be sometime in 2007 (though I’m probably wrong about that)…

    At that point, everybody with an analog TV will need an adapter of some sort anyway.

    2009 at this point, actually (Wikipedia on the subject). It was supposed to be ’07 at first, I think, but it’s since been pushed back (just like mandated CableCard deployment :/). Good chance it’ll get pushed back again, but that might just be me being pessimistic.

    Can’t predict the future, but I feel like by ’09 there’ll be a decent demand for the kind of pipes that fiber’d provide anyway. In the mean time, it’d allow me to get more HDTV, which is some of the phattest ambrosia known to man.

    Comment by Jared — 07/02/28 @ 3:54 pm

  53. Yes, but isn’t the day rapidly approaching where they’ll be required to switch off the analog broadcasts and go fully digital?

    It would help if I thought before replying. I’m almost positive this only applies to over-the-air broadcasts. And in any case, I don’t see this actually happening.

    Comment by Matt Spong — 07/02/28 @ 3:54 pm

  54. Can’t predict the future, but I feel like by ‘09 there’ll be a decent demand for the kind of pipes that fiber’d provide anyway.

    I’m sure that’s true, which is why the backbones are being upgraded heavily as we speak. But my original point was that, until that happens, there’s no point in having fiber to everybody’s home, and mandating it from above won’t change that fact.

    Comment by Matt Spong — 07/02/28 @ 3:56 pm

  55. ’m sure that’s true, which is why the backbones are being upgraded heavily as we speak.

    Point to you I suppose; I never pretended that the idea was well thought out ^_^

    I just happen to think the lack of good planning in programs like this is not a reason to scrap them, but a reason to encourage better planning.

    Comment by Jared — 07/02/28 @ 4:00 pm

  56. The problem with the world is we have come too far too fast.

    Comment by Scott C. — 07/02/28 @ 7:23 pm


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