Month: October 2008

Want better Internet? Vote Obama.

Fruitless visit to the FCC

Fuitless visit to the FCC

For the past eight years, I have seen a movement away from critical open access, and toward a monopolized Internet. It’s time for change.

In 1996, during the end of Clinton’s first term, congress passed the 1996 Telecom Act, opening voice and data communications to competition. This historic event ushered in early innovators such as Covad Communications, one of the first competitive carriers, and one of the first telecom companies to offer DSL service. Cable, telecom, and ISPs all engaged in years of competition and innovation, resulting in the relatively widespread availability of broadband access and services we see today.

But for the last four years, the FCC has subscribed to a different mandate, and there has been a huge roll-back. It’s a philosophy called the “multi-modal competition model”, and the basic premise is that less competition is good. While it makes little sense, that philosophy has informed key decisions by the FCC that affect the quality, price and innovation of Internet access that consumers can purchase today.

The multi-modal concept simply says that “One choice of Cable Internet versus one choice of DSL Internet is enough competition”, and that eliminating the common carriage wholesale requirements will free these two giants to make investments and grow availability. In other words, if you can get Internet in any form from just two providers, the market will probably take care of itself. There was some thought that wireless and powerline based Internet would also be in the mix, but neither of these have been relevant. So, what we’re left with is a duopoly. Ever seen vibrant innovation or really competitive pricing in a duopoly?

Under this multi-model concept, the FCC first decided that Cable companies would be free from the requirement that telecom carriers had to wholesale services to ISPs. Then, when telecom carriers appropriately pointed out the inequity in that, they eliminated the requirement of them too. This leaves ISPs without the ability to sell services to customers, and hands the entire ISP business to the Cable and Telco firms.

The Telecom Act is intact, but barriers to entry are very high. This takes the typical ISP who buys wholesale services out of the picture, leaving behind only regulated competitive carriers. ( has formed a telco carrier for this reason in order to remain a going concern.)

I visited the FCC myself to speak to staff about these issues. It was clear that the democratic minority appointees to the FCC understood the need for competition, but that the issue was being decided by the administration. I think it’s time for a change to that administration.

McCain’s close ties to large telecom firms promise four more years of this broken non-competitive concept at the FCC, and I believe that’s inherently bad for consumers.

Obama on the other hand has addressed the issue head on, and has a stated goal of open access. This includes honoring the principals of network neutrality, and hopefully, vibrant competition again instead of simply giving the Internet as a whole to the monopoly Cable and Telco.

For more on the history of our country’s march backward on broadband competition, see:
FCC v. Brand X
FCC forbearance on Fiber wholesale
FCC forbearance on DSL and Broadband wholesale

Fusion Broadband update

Building to a gold star

Building to a gold star - CO build status

Today we delivered service for our first Fusion Broadband customer in Santa Rosa.

The first circuit was delivered for Bob Amen, a long time customer. Bob is also the director of systems and network admin at local publisher O’Reilly Media. Bob ordered our middle speed (10Mbps) dry loop (aka “Naked”) DSL for his home, and he’s got a solid connection at the full speed.

Our team is continuing to do the heavy lifting required to build out the network. I am pleased and inspired by the progress. We are all looking forward to continued expansion.

In addition to downtown Santa Rosa, we have completed equipment setup in Sebastopol, Berkeley, Rohnert Park and Windsor. We have put cabinets into Healdsburg, plus two offices in San Francisco, and will be bolting them down and installing equipment and power. Albany, Petaluma and other San Francisco offices are coming soon.

Progress is displayed on our beautiful tally board, pictured here. We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us. We will keep you posted as we progress to the “Gold Star” for each CO, and meanwhile, you can order service here!

You have to Pay to Play.

The new softball team, The Death Monkeys, is comprised mostly of employees with a few friends and family of employees – all of them are tough.

Jenny sent me some pictures as proof:

Kim's Arm.

Kim's Arm.

Lani's Toe.

Lani's Toe.

Terra's Leg.

Terra's Leg.

Note: Terra’s Leg has Karl’s autograph – Karl being the one who threw the wild pitch that caused that bruise.

More Monkey Madness

Two games down, and three to go.  The Sonic Death Monkeys have been playing hard and are tied for 4th place!  We’d love to have you in the stands cheering us on, tonight’s game starts at 7:20, Howarth Park, Santa Rosa.  Thank you everyone!

Ed: for some reason this post was never approved after Jenny originally wrote it 23, September, sorry.

“Look Ma! Capacity.”

We are the nerdy type around here, and as such we love graphs – they are an easy visual aide to what can be mounds of data – so it pleases me to share with you the graphs from our recent ‘Mail Storage Maintenance‘:

Daily disk utilization for E-Mail storage.

Daily disk utilization for E-Mail storage.

You can see we were hovering around 85%; which for the NetApp Filers is the point at which the overhead of maintaining free and used space begins to impact performance. Fortunately for us, the storage requirements for Customer E-Mail grows linearly, so it’s easy to plan ahead and have a new shelf ready to install:

Yearly disk utilization for E-Mail storage.

Yearly disk utilization for E-Mail storage.

As you can see, it was about this time last year when we added more capacity, and if the graphs hold true, we will be doing another upgrade in a year; of course at some point we will run into power and other physical constraints, at which point we may need to do an even bigger jump to newer Filers with higher capacity disks; for now though, we all sleep a little bit better knowing we have plenty of room to grow for the coming year.