Timothy M. Denton

Success Through Understanding Technology

Timothy Denton's Blog

Commentary and insights on policy issues in telecommunications and the Internet.

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Timothy Denton

Timothy Denton

Timothy Denton is a lawyer by training who practices principally in telecommunications and Internet policy and domain name issues, with a strong concentration on explaining what the technology is and what it means.

Posted by on in Industry News

Every profession has its own way of understanding the world, and the way economists understand it is the subject of a book by David Warsh,  Knowledge and the Wealth of Nations: A Story of Economic Discovery. It is a well-written book, and confirms my view that economists have a hard time understanding the world they live in.

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I wish I could get more excited by spectrum set-asides for new entrants. No, I am not talking about bad pornography- it is not that kind of excitement. I refer to the government's announcement that new entrants will be favoured in the spectrum auctions, the goal being to encourage the creation of a fourth wireless carrier in most urban and suburban regions of Canada. I think there are far simpler ways of cracking this nut.

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Some carriers point to the risks of placing fiber to the home if there is any risk of having to lease their facilities to smaller ISPs. Many shibboleths are cited. My favourite is the prospect that radio-based services might become suddenly competitive with fiber.

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When I consider the skill it takes to converse with the Commissioners in a hearing, and not argue,  I can only admire Ken Engelhart of Rogers. Engelhart manages to maintain a conversation between regulator and regulated that is remarkably free of cant, rancor, contention, and evasion.

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Jean Pierre Blais, Chairman of the CRTC, asked the essential question of the hearing to the representatives of the Open Media Coalition on Monday December 1st. Why is service-based competition the way to go? he asked. I have been waiting for this question because it draws attention to the issue: where does innovation come from?

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Calgary is building optical fiber capacity, even a network, and leasing out that capacity to all and sundry, according to its testimony. (A brilliant job by its counsel Mary-Anne Bendfeld). This is what Stockholm has been doing for decades. Stockholm has several cable companies and several telecom companies, all of whom ride on the municipal public utility. See Stockab. For the English translation, see this.

Be not mystified, Commissioners! This is a standard operating procedure in some parts of Europe.

"Stokab leases fibre optic networks that telecom operators, businesses, local authorities and organisations use for digital communications. Leasing agreements are structured on favorable terms to encourage IT development and strong growth in the Stockholm region.

In addition to fibre optics, Stokab provides space in nodes/hubs where customers can install communication equipment needed to connect their own networks to others’ networks.

 

 

 

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A good background on what is at stake in the essential services hearings is given by David Ellis here.

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Shaw admitted this morning that it would continue to invest in facilities regardless of obligations to smaller ISPs to allow access to their facilities. While other incumbents  have occasionally nuanced their positions on this, their essential position has been that by allowing third party access to underlying facilities they will cease to invest adequately in new facilities.

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You know when you are a telecom junkie when the essential services proceedings fascinate you.

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Watching the show at the CRTC Essential Services proceeding, I count the number of bad ideas that confuse the discussion. Commissioners have them put in their heads by years of listening to them, and have to ask questions predicated on them. This I understand. The purpose of a hearing is in large part to air out the bad ideas as well as the good. As fast as they are aired and hung out to dry, new bad ideas will be tried out. My purpose here is to try to identify the bad ideas.

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Carleton PhD candidate  Benjamin Klass, and Mike Kedar, the guy whose actions caused long distance voice competition to come to Canada, have written a letter to government, including the CRTC, on the question of constraining the market power of the incumbents. It is their letter. I post it below. Professor Dwayne Winseck of Carleton signed his name to it in support.

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In political life you may have to agree with people with whom you would rather not. So it is with Obama's proposals for net neutrality.

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The CRTC is making a lot of good moves lately: eliminating the requirement to give 30 days' notice before abandoning a cable subscription is both sensible and substantially good. And insisting on making decisions based on evidence is right, and  taking pride in basing one's decisions on evidence is understandable.  Running the risk of being a dinosaur is the fate of anyone over forty, but try not to be one.

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Our planning for it is deplorable, at the moment. An Internet-centric 9-1-1 needs to be planned by people who understand the Internet. Does this not seem obvious? Then why is our planning process excluding them? Because we have no adequate planning process.

Here is a presentation I made at the Toronto ISP Summit in November 2014.

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Today's Hi and Lois says it all. Lois: "What's on TV tonight?" [The each member of the  family is watching their own device] "Who cares?" asks Chip the teenaged son. Who cares indeed?

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The ladders of investment are lonely creatures.They wander the plains of the Regulatorium, a vast continent whose middle is   populated by very few, very large idea-creatures, who dwarf the ladders of investment.  These bigger creatures graze on consumer surplus, and run into each other at large water holes, where they bellow their challenges to each other and complain that the game wardens should allow them more pasturage and eliminate both their larger rivals and the new smaller creatures which try to graze on their pasturage.

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Posted by on in Industry News

Sometimes a question can send you back to first principles. Yesterday I heard one, and it kept me awake last night while I pondered it.

The question was asked by a Commissioner at the mobile wholesale hearing. It went like this. "The mobile sector has seen the most wonderful progress in the last twenty years. The landline side is in relative decline. Yet you say we should apply more of the approach we adopted for ensuring landline competition worked for mobile. Can you explain why? Is that not a contradiction?"

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Is it time to break up the CRTC into separate brodcasting and telecommunications agencies? I think so.

The CRTC has climbed down from its untenable position on regulating the Internet. It has huffed and puffed and struck Netflix' testimony from the record, which is about as sensible as striking Trotsky from the pictures with Lenin and Stalin. Or as Andrew Coyne remarks today, like the characters in Hamlet, ignoring the oncoming army of Fortinbras, which will put an end to the whole crew in Elsinore Castle.

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The  Klingon Empire salutes you, Chairman Blais. According to reports we have heard from reliable sources, you have deliberately arranged this confrontation with the Internet.

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