September 6, 2007

A Recap of the Implications of Changing from Copper to Fiber [1:49 pm]

Although the question seems to have been framed as “how much competition is enough to satisfy public policy goals?” it might be appropriate to consider why this question isn’t being asked instead — “can there ever actually be such a thing as too much competition?” Telecom Changes Put Competition on the Linepdf

The telephone giants — once part of the Ma Bell monopoly that started laying copper lines in the late 1800s — are currently required to lease their copper and limited parts of their fiber-optic networks to rivals to encourage competition. But as they invest in the newer fiber-optic networks, Verizon is asking regulators to eliminate requirements to share their networks with competitors in several major markets.

Qwest Communications International and AT&T are also replacing some copper lines but are leaving a portion so that copper lines can be used along with new fiber lines.

Ed Shakin, a lawyer for Verizon, said network-sharing requirements are no longer needed in certain cities now that cable companies and other competitors have rolled out Internet and phone service. “What competitors want are artificially low prices,” he said. “It comes down to a fight about price, not availability.”

But this week, 22 companies, including XO in Reston, Cavalier Telephone in Richmond and RCN in Herndon, countered Verizon’s argument in a letter to the Federal Communications Commission. Competition is not sufficient to justify Verizon’s request not to lease its network to smaller companies in six major cities, the companies said in asking the commission to deny the request.

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Another Try at eBooks [1:13 pm]

Envisioning the Next Chapter for Electronic Books — Personally, I’m with Michael Gartenberg, I just don’t see the value proposition for most book applications. Granted, I’m an old guy, but I think most people understand the problems not only associated with the degree to which ebooks are encumbered by things like DRM, but also with the fact that the technology moves so fast that there’s no guarantee that the ebook they buy today will even be readable a decade from now — not really a problem with books, at least on that time horizon!

“Books represent a pretty good value for consumers. They can display them and pass them to friends, and they understand the business model,” said Michael Gartenberg, research director at Jupiter Research, who is skeptical that a profitable e-book market will emerge anytime soon.

“We have had dedicated e-book devices on the market for more than a decade, and the payoff always seems to be just a few years away,” he said.

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