Tales of the Sausage Factory

Dave Sez: AT&T Are [Bleep!]

My friend “Dave” recently moved from San Francisco to Sacramento. Being of the modern mobile generation that has “cut the cord” and lives by the cell phone, Dave wanted to get “naked DSL.” i.e., DSL (or other broadband) without any kind of telephone or video contract (Dave also refuses to pay for cable TV, on the grounds that 99% of the programming “sucks”). To his surprise and disappointment, Dave couldn’t find any naked broadband available in his neighborhood. So he wrote to me, as the known expert on all things broadband. “Isn’t there any way I can just get broadband without a telephone contract?” Dave wrote me in an email.

So I thought about it, and I said: “Is Sacramento AT&T territory?”

“Yeah.”

“Well AT&T has to offer $20 naked DSL, as a merger condition from when they bought BellSouth. Why don’t you try for that.”

So Dave dug around until he found the offer for AT&T DSL until he found the AT&T Yahoo! High Speed Internet Package With No Voice Contract:

Basic 768 kbps $19.95
Express 1.5 mbps $23.99
Pro 3.0 mbps $28.99

We talked, and I recommended the “Express” package as probably the best suited to his needs. Dave went to order it. His reactions below (warning, contains frank language and highly suggestive ASCII)….

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Tales of the Sausage Factory

Why Teens Are Smarter Than Regulators — The Difference between Ubiquity and Substitutibility

Greetings gentle reader! Welcome to another chapter in my occasional series “What All Policy Wonks Need to Understand About Economics So They Can Spot The Industry Baloney” aka “The Econ 101 Gut Check.”

In today’s lesson, we look at two concepts often confused with one another. UBIQUITY, which means how widely available something is; and SUBSTITUTIBALITY, which means whether people regard one thing as a substitute for their first choice. Most arguments for deregulation of the media and the internet rest on confusing these related but very different concepts. For example, the argument that the availability of video clips on YouTube or other types of content creation confuses ubiquity and substitubality, as does the argument that cellphones compete with DSL and cable for broadband access.

But according to this USA Today article (reporting on this study by the PEW Internet and American life project), teenagers who actually use this stuff on a regular basis understand the differences perfectly. And if regulators, policy types, or even just folks who care about getting it right for its own sake want to get our national media and broadband polices right, then we better learn from these teenagers and get the difference between ubiquity and substitutibility straight.

Class begins below . . . .

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Tales of the Sausage Factory

Network Neutrality In Last Throes! Nationally Franchised Bells to Be Greeted As Liberators!

The signs of increasing desperation in the war of words over the Stevens Bill reached a new low. As reported by Matt Stoller Stevens has released the results of this push poll purporting to show that the majority of voters are interested in cable, not network neutrality, and would prefer to get the Bell video franchising bill passed without net neutrality provisions attached.

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Tales of the Sausage Factory

Did the Bells Rip Off America? and Is There An Alternative?

I want to put two pieces side by side here: Bruce Kushnik’s magnum opus The $200 Billion Broadband Scandal, accusing the Bell Companies of ripping off the U.S. public to the
and Bob McChesnney’s and John Podesta’s visionary Let There Be Wi-Fi talking about the power of unlicensed spectrum as a broadband solution.

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Tales of the Sausage Factory

Bad News From Colorado

I’m reprinting (with permission) a post from Dave Hughes about yesterday’s (4/5) Colorado House Committee Hearing on their anti-muni bill. For those unfamiliar with Dave Hughes, he is one of the true pioneers of unlicensed spectrum as a way of bringing broadband cheaply and easily to the masses.

It’s grim reading. But unlike Dave, I refuse to give up until a bill is passed and signed. There is still time for the people of Colorado to remind their elected officials that at the end of the day, they work for them, not Qwest or Comcast.

Stay tuned . . .

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