[joho] JOHO Special: Oct. 21 2002

  • From: "David Weinberger" <self@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <joho@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Mon, 21 Oct 2002 15:54:29 -0400

***** JOHO Interval ******
October 21, 2002
Editor: David Weinberger (self@xxxxxxxxxxx)
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[NOTE: This is a special issue. A routinely overdue, 
 overstuffed regular issue is in the works. Soon.]

                  SPECIAL ISSUE

A bunch of netty women and men have sent a letter to FCC Chair Michael
"Son of" Powell. The basic message is: When the telecommunications
industry goes bankrupt, don't try to resuscitate the corpse. Let it go.
Its infrastructure and the business model based on it are obsolete. It
can't be fixed. Instead, let the market bring forth a new era of
innovation and connectivity, let a hundred flowers bloom, let the moon
enter the house of Aquarius, etc. The alternative is that we sink
billions into companies that are doing everything they can to prevent
telecommunications - the whole schmear of telephones, cable, broadband
and the stuff we haven't invented yet - from doing what it wants to do:
go digital, go IP, go everywhere. 

The letter is posted at http://www.netparadox.com. The issue is
important because the existing industry is going to use every weapon it
can find, including the blunt instrument of "It's the only way we can
defeat the terrorists" in order to maintain its grip. So, wanna help
spread the word? 

Here's the letter:


The Hon. Michael Powell
Federal Communications Commission

Dear Mr. Chairman:

We thank you for your leadership in FCC efforts to
understand the causes of the current telecom
debacle, and especially for convening the FCC's
October 7, 2002, Telecom Recovery En Banc hearing.

We were dismayed that several of the En Banc
speakers confused causes with effects. We believe
that balance sheet weakness, long-haul overcapacity,
and even the recent speculative bubble, are effects,
not causes. If we attempt to treat the symptoms, we
risk missing the causes and prolonging the agony.

We hold that the primary cause of current telecom
troubles is that Internet-based end-to-end data
networking has subsumed (and will subsume) the value
that was formerly embodied in other communications
networks. This, in turn, is causing the immediate
obsolescence of the vertically integrated, circuit-
based telephony industry of 127 years vintage. CLEC,
IXC and ILEC bonds used to purchase now-obsolete
infrastructure assets have become (or inexorably are
becoming) bad debt. Weak last-mile competition
prevents the most powerful technological advances
from reaching all but a few customers; this is the
largest cause of long-haul over-capacity.

One En Banc participant, NYU Professor Larry White,
had views that seem consistent with ours. He
recommends that we let firms that are failing fail
as quickly as possible. We believe that it would be
harmful if government actions prevent, delay or
interrupt this evolution. It must proceed if the
United States is to continue to be a leading
contributor to communications progress, and if its
citizens are to benefit from the technologies that
are now available and the applications that they

The telecom debacle is not a cyclical phenomenon.
The telephone network's technological base, and the
business model under which this old technology
thrived, are obsolete. Recovery is not an option. We
can only move forward; how far and how fast will be
determined by our continued freedom to innovate. Let
the United States learn by not duplicating the
Japanese banking experience in the telecom arena.

We need to see the current situation not as a
disaster, but as a natural event; part of a
revolution in productivity and human benefit as big
as the agricultural and industrial revolutions.

Given these views, we urge the FCC to:

   Resist at all costs the telephone industry's
   calls for bailouts. The policy should be one of
   "fast failure."

   Acknowledge that non-Internet communications
   equipment, while not yet extinct, is economically
   obsolete and forbear from actions that would
   artificially prolong its use.

   Discourage attempts by incumbent telephone
   companies to thwart municipal, publicly-owned and
   other communications initiatives that don't fit
   the telephone company business model.

   Accelerate FCC exploration of innovative spectrum
   use and aggressively expand unlicensed spectrum

Mr. Chairman, we note with gratitude your impatience
with antique regulatory structures, and your
attempts to embrace new technology. Also, we
acknowledge the burden inherent in the FCC's duty to
ensure the continuity of communications, especially
basic dial-tone continuity, in the face of such
changes; we are prepared to lend assistance as the
FCC grapples with this issue. Notwithstanding, we
urge you to continue against the inevitable
onslaught of those seeking to preserve an impossible
status quo.


Izumi Aizu, Asia Network Research
Jay Batson, CEO, Pingtel
Robert J. Berger, President, Internet Bandwidth
  Development, LLC
Dan Berninger, pulver.com
Scott Berry, telecommunications consultant, Darien
Michael Bialek, President, InfoComm Inc.
Scott Bradner, Harvard University
Richard Campbell, Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Douglass Carmichael, individual, dougcarmichael.com
Judi Clark, individual, ManyMedia.com
Anders Comstedt, Managing Director, Stokab
Gordon Cook, publisher, The Cook Report on Internet
Timothy Denton, Internet attorney, tmdenton.com
Greg Elin, independent software developer
Tom Evslin, CEO & Chairman, ITXC
David J. Farber, Moore Professor, University of
Bob Frankston, individual, frankston.com
Dewayne Hendricks, CEO, Dandin Group
Roxane Googin, editor, High Technology Observer
Charles W. K. Gritton, President, Broadsword
  Technologies, Inc.
David S. Isenberg, Principal Prosultant(sm),
  isen.com, LLC
Johna Till Johnson, President, Nemertes Research
Peter Kaminski, individual, peterkaminski.com
Shumpei Kumon, Executive Director, GLOCOM
Bruce Kushnick, Executive Director, New Networks
Andrew Maffei, individual, Falmouth MA
Jerry Michalski, sociate.com
David Newman, President, Network Test Inc.
Matthew Oristano, former CEO,  SpeedChoice, People's
  Choice TV
Mark Petrovic, individual, Pasadena CA
Jeff Pulver, founder, pulver.com
Frank R. Robles, CEO, Neopolitan Networks, Inc.
Charles Rybeck, Managing Director, Benchmarking
Paul Saffo, individual, pls@xxxxxxxx
Doc Searls, Senior Editor, Linux Journal
Clay Shirky, telecommunications consultant,
Porter Stansberry, publisher, Agora Inc.
Ted Stout, CEO and founder, The ROI Institute
Brough Turner, CTO and co-founder, NMS
David Weinberger, JOHO editor and Cluetrain co-
Kevin Werbach, technology analyst, Supernova Group
Additional Signers
David P. Reed
Sky Dayton, founder, EarthLink, founder & CEO,
  Boingo Wireless
Steve Stroh, Editor, Focus On Broadband Wireless
  Internet Access


Take that! 


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