Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Net neutrality: can't anybody play this game?

In my last article, I discussed the carriers' desire to prioritize packets, i.e., to establish multiple tiers of service. I raised a concern that tiering has never been proven in a public, multi-domain infrastructure. I suggested that, given this concern, one would hope that such a tiering model could be proven out before deploying it haphazardly on the Internet.

That may not be the only hurdle. On the broadband deployment front, DTVfacts notes that AT&T's TV servivce may already be running into problems ("Analyst predicts delays for AT&T's TV service"):

...ThinkEquity analyst Anton Wahlman is predicting [delays in AT&T's plans to bring 200-channel TV service to 18 million homes]...

…[AT&T] earnings were notable in part for what was absent—updates on AT&T’s Project Lightspeed fiber-to-the-node buildout or U-verse TV service, which is now in a San Antonio trial, were not even mentioned in the earnings release, and during the conference call Tuesday morning, seldom was heard a word about either.”

Lightspeed’s core problem, according to Wahlman: It’s too slow.

He believes AT&T needs to sharply increase VDSL2 bandwidth speeds if Lightspeed is to compete with cable. “AT&T is likely realizing that 25 megabits isn’t going to do the trick, but rather that it needs to plan for 100 megabits or more to the home today, with a path to Gigabit Ethernet to every home in the next five to 10 years at the most.”

Lightspeed’s hybrid transmission system of fiber and copper wire is called into question by Jim Carlini, an adjunct professor at Northwestern University.

If you’re going to go through all this redeployment, AT&T should be setting its sights higher on real broadband and long-term capabilities. Providing another flavor of DSL is shortsighted.

Put simply, not only is multi-domain QoS routing a potential stumbling block, but the actual last-mile technologies   being deployed by the telcos may be insufficient for the stated task: TV service.

With the telcos' record of Internet innovation over the last two decades, somehow I'm not surprised this whole mess is coming unravelled faster than Ben Johnson on a chemically-enhanced jaunt.

Food for thought for the telcos: increase spending on R&D; decrease spending on lobbyists. Dare to dream.

No comments: